Marlena Shaw, the jazz and R&B singer best known for her 1969 hit “California Soul,” has died. She was 81.
In addition to that hit single and other successful tracks such as “Yu-Ma/Go Away Little Boy,” Shaw’s music took on another life when it was sampled by prominent hip-hop artists including Drake, Gang Starr, DJ Shadow and Ghostface Killah.
Shaw’s daughter, Marla Bradshaw, announced the singer’s death in a Facebook post Friday.
Born Marlina Burgess in New Rochelle, N.Y., on Sept. 22, 1942, she was introduced to the music of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and gospel singers by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a jazz trumpeter.
Shaw began singing in jazz clubs in the early 1960s, and she got her big break when she landed a gig with the Playboy Club in Chicago in 1966, where she met representatives of Chess Records and soon signed a recording deal. She released her first two albums with the Chess subsidiary Cadet Records, and scored a hit with “California Soul” in 1969.
In 1972, Shaw moved to Blue Note Records and released five albums with the prestigious jazz labels throughout the ’70s before moving again to release subsequent recordings with Verve, Concord, Polydor and others.
In all, Shaw released 17 albums during a career that spanned nearly 60 years.