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Music icon, Marlena Shaw leaves a legacy of her popular sampled song, 'California Soul,'after her passing

By Black Headline News


Marlena Shaw (September 22, 1942 – January 19, 2024)

Music icon Marlena Shaw has died at age 81 on January 19, 2024, according to her daughter, Marla Shaw who confirmed it in a video posted to Facebook on the same day.

“It’s with a very heavy heart that for myself and our family, I announce that our beloved mother, your beloved icon and artist, Marlena Shaw, has passed away today at 12:03,” she said.


Born with the name, Marlina Burgess, Shaw was born in New Rochelle, New York and was first introduced to music by her uncle Jimmy Burgess, a jazz trumpet player.


Her career took off in 1966 when she landed a gig with the Playboy Club chain in Chicago. It was through this gig that she met with representatives of the Chess Records music label, and soon signed with them. She released her first two albums on their subsidiary Cadet Records.

A 1969 album track "California Soul," a funk-soul tune written by Ashford & Simpson and originally issued as a single by American pop quintet The 5th Dimension, later became a staple of the UK rare groove scene. This song has appeared in television commercials for Dockers, KFC and Dodge Ram trucks. It has been sampled dozens of times by artists including Drake, Deee-Lite and Shaun Ryder’s band Black Grape, as well as being used in television ads; she thoroughly approved of her work being recycled, she said: “It kinda makes me feel like the sun, and I shine on all kinds of things.”


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