Teena Marie, the energetic R & B singer who became one of the few Caucasian acts to be a hit with Motown, has died at age 54 on December 26.  She died in her sleep but cause of death was not officially released.  She was signed to the Motown label in 1979 with the recommendation of her mentor, the legendary Rick James, with who she was romantically linked and had a long friendship.  Her first album, "Wild and Peaceful", did not show her face on the cover because record executives feared the African-American audience, which was Motown's mainstay, wouldn't buy a record by a white artist.  Instead, they pictured a landscape, and the strategy worked.  By the time her second album came out, people had fallen in love with her revered pitch-perfect voice, and her skin color was never an issue.  In 2004, her great friend Rick James passed away, and in her grief she became addicted to the pain killer Vicodin, but she kicked that habit in 2008.  She was currently promoting her last album, "Congo Square", named after a famous section of New Orleans and released by Stax Records.