Advertisement

Marlena Shaw, “California Soul” Singer, Dies at 81

Marlena Shaw, the legendary soul and jazz singer most known for her hit song “California Soul,” has died. She was 81.

Shaw’s daughter, Marla Bradshaw, shared the news of her death on Friday in a video posted on Facebook. Her cause of death was not immediately available.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

“It’s 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,” Bradshaw said. “She was peaceful. We were at peace. … She went listening to some of her favorite songs.”

She added, “I just want to thank you all for being on her page. Thank you for being a part of her life. Especially these last three years, which made her very happy.”

Born on Sept. 22, 1939, in New Rochelle, New York, Shaw began her music career in the 1960s and went on to influence several musical genres, including jazz, soul, disco and R&B. In total, the vocalist released 17 albums with eight different record labels throughout her career.

Shaw initially rose to popularity when Chess Records noticed her in the ’60s. It was under the music label’s subsidiary Cadet Records that she released the albums Out of Different Bags (1967) and The Spice of Life (1969), the latter of which included the hit tracks “California Soul” and “Woman of the Ghetto.”

“California Soul,” written by Ashford & Simpson, has since been sampled by several other artists, including Gang Starr, Stereo MC’s, DJ Shadow and Diplo.

Some of Shaw’s albums released under Blue Note Records, which she moved to in 1972, include Marlena, From the Depths of My Soul and Just a Matter of Time. She later released Sweet Beginnings under Columbia Records in 1977.

Verve Records, who worked with Shaw in 1987, shared in a statement, “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.”

Best of The Hollywood Reporter