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Jazz singer Marlena Shaw passes away at age 84


Best known for ‘California Soul’

Marlena Shaw, best known for her 1969 hit “California Soul,” died on Jan. 19 at the age of 84.

Shaw’s daughter, Marla Bradshaw, announced the news in a video posted to the singer’s Facebook page. 

“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,” Bradshaw said in the video.

The jazz singer “went very peacefully,” her daughter said, and the family was also “at peace” as she died. 

“She went listening to some of her favorite songs,” her daughter shared.

Bradshaw said that she was not going to share “too many details” about her mother’s death, the cause for which was not specified, adding, “When it’s needed  to be known, it will be.” 

Throughout her long career, Shaw was signed to several record labels. She started out with Cadet Records, where she released two studio albums, including 1969’s The Spice of Life, which featured her version of Ashford & Simpson’s “California Soul,” the song that she became best known for.

In 1972, she signed with Universal Music Group’s Blue Note, making history as their first female vocalist.

She released five albums and several singles while with Blue Note, according to their biography of her, and she “dazzled audiences with her intoxicating blend of straight-ahead jazz, soul, pop, and classic R&B.”

Shaw also worked with Verve Records, the same label Ella Fitzgerald was signed to, and the label released a statement on Jan. 19 in response to 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,” the statement said.