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California Soul singer Marlena Shaw dies at 81, fans shattered: ‘Powerhouse of soul and sass’

Marlena Shaw, the influential voice of a generation celebrated for her soul and jazz melodies, has passed away at the age of 81. Renowned for masterpieces like California Soul and Woman of the Ghetto, her death has left a major void in the world of disco and R&B. On January 20, Marlena’s daughter Marla Bradshaw shared the news in a video posted on Facebook. The cause of death, however, was not revealed.

Marlena Shaw(Getty Images)

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Marlena Shaw dies at the age of 81

Marlena Shaw was more than just a one-hit wonder. Her career lasted for more than six decades. During her time in the spotlight, she explored various music genres like jazz, blues, and soul. In a video posted on Friday, Marlena’s daughter said,“It’s with a very heavy heart 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.”

Marla Bradshaw further added, “She was peaceful. We were at peace., She went listening to some of her favorite songs.”

Fans mourn the loss

Who was Marlena Shaw?

Known for her versatile singing skills, Shaw gained fame when she signed with Chess Records in 1966. Under its Cadet Records subsidiary, the American jazz singer released two albums, including Out of Different Bags in 1967 and The Spice of Life in 1969. These albums featured two popular tracks, California Soul and Woman of the Ghetto, marking her breakthrough.

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In 1972, Marlena Shaw transitioned to a different record label, Blue Note Records. She produced songs such as Marlena, From the Depths of My Soul, and Just a Matter of Time. Later, in 1977, she released Sweet Beginnings under Columbia Records.

Verve record, with whom Shaw worked in 1987, in a statement to Hollywood reported said, “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.”


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  1. The world of music mourns the loss of Marlena Shaw, the iconic voice known for her soul and jazz melodies. She passed away at the age of 81, leaving a significant void in the disco and R&B genres. Renowned for classics like “California Soul” and “Woman of the Ghetto,” Marlena Shaw’s versatile six-decade career left an indelible mark on the industry. The cause of her death has not been disclosed. Her daughter, Marla Bradshaw, shared the news on Facebook, stating that Marlena passed away peacefully while listening to her favorite songs. 🎶😢 #MarlenaShaw #MusicLegend

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