Marlena Shaw Death, “California Soul” singer died at 81

Marlena Shaw Death

Marlena Shaw Death: Marlena Shaw was an American jazz, blues, and soul singer and she was best known for her much-sampled hit, California Soul, has died at 81.

Who was Marlena Shaw?

Marlena Shaw, originally Marlina Burgess, born on September 22, 1942, was an American singer. She kicked off her singing journey in the 1960s and continued to captivate audiences until her passing. Her musical influence extends into hip-hop, where her work has been sampled, and her tunes have found a place in television commercials.


Shaw started performing in jazz clubs whenever she could find the time. One significant moment was in 1963 when she collaborated with jazz trumpeter Howard McGhee. While scheduled to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival with McGhee and his band, she left the group following a disagreement with one of the band members.

In 1977 she released an LP Sweet Beginnings on Columbia that contained: “Yu Ma / Go Away Little Boy”, a medley containing the old Goffin and Carole King standard, originally recorded by Nancy Wilson.

Shaw’s “California Soul” was a track featured on her 1969 album, “The Spice of Life,” and eventually gained popularity as a sought-after record for early hip-hop samplers. The song has been sampled by artists like Gang Starr, DJ Shadow, Diplo, and Nightmares on Wax.

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