Singer Marlena Shaw

‘California Soul’ Singer Marlena Shaw Dies At 81

The news of Marlena Shaw's passing was confirmed by her daughter, Marla Bradshaw, in a post to Facebook on Jan. 19.

Marlena Shaw, known for her hit song “California Soul,” has died at age 81. The R&B singer’s daughter confirmed the news of her death on Jan. 19. 

In a video post to Facebook, Shaw’s daughter, Marla Bradshaw, whose name on the app is “MarLa The Messenger Bradshaw,” spoke on the passing of her mother.

“Hello everyone, it is with a very heavy heart that for myself and my family, I announce that our beloved mother, your beloved icon and artist, Marlena Shaw, has passed away today at 12:03,” expressed Bradshaw. “She was peaceful, we were at peace.”

Bradshaw continued, explaining that further information regarding the singer’s death will be relayed in due time. 

“Obviously, I’m not going to go into too many details,” the singer’s daughter said. “But as her fans, when its needing to be known it will be. Right now, she’s at peace, she’s in heaven, I do know that.”

Born on Sept. 22, 1939, Shaw’s career in singing started at an early age, performing at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem at age 10. According to Deadline, she became a household name in the 1960s with her hits “California Soul” and “Woman of the Ghetto,” as her music shed light on Black women’s experiences during the Civil Rights era.

Not only did the singer’s music help embody the time period, but it also revived labels within the industry. The release of her 1986 album It Is Love: Recorded Live At Vine St. under Verve Records helped revive the company, as stated in their own press release following the news of her death. 

“We are saddened by the passing of Marlena Shaw, a wonderful singer whose “California Soul” is as popular today as it ever was and whose album “It Is Love: Recorded Live At Vine St.” helped relaunch the Verve label in 1987,” detailed the record label.

Of one of her most notable hits, “California Soul” has transcended its original decade by being a sampling go-to from the dawn of hip-hop, being utilized in songs by Gang Starr, DJ Shadow, and more contemporary artist and producer Diplo.

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