Jazz singer Marlena Shaw is dead at the age of 81. The singer known for often sampled songs, “Woman of the Ghetto” and “California Soul,” died on Friday, according to her daughter, Marla Bardshaw, who announced the singer’s passing on Facebook.
Marlena Shaw, legendary "California Soul" singer, dies at 81 https://t.co/ctBmmDmwJR (1942-2024)
— Anthony Ogozalek (@OgozalekAnthony) January 21, 2024
“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.”
Revealing that Marlena died listening to some of her favorite songs, Bradshaw stated that her mother’s death was a peaceful one.
“She went listening to some of her favorite songs,” she wrote.
Bradshaw did not go into details, as she did not reveal what exactly led to Marlena’s death. She did say that she and her twin sister had a good day with the singer a day before her passing, as it was their birthdays.
“Miss Shaw is in heaven,” she wrote.
One of the labels she worked with, Verve Records, put out a statement addressing her death and celebrating her contribution to the music world.
In a Facebook post, the label wrote, “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.”
Having first made a mark at jazz clubs, Marlena gained prominence in the music industry back in the 1960s when she got signed by the Chess Records offshoot label Cadet Records. She released her first two albums, “Our of Different Bags” in 1967 and “The Spice of Life” in 1969.
While she has since left the label for a more jazz-oriented one and six more since then, the singer’s music has spread through generations. Altogether, Marlena has 17 studio albums with eight different record labels.