Jazz, blues, and soul singer Marlena Shaw passed away on January 19, 2024 at age 84, according to a family social media post. She was born Marlina Burgess on September 22, 1939 in New Rochelle, NY.

Her uncle, trumpeter Jimmy Burgess, brought her into the world of music, and she sang with his band at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1952.

She continued to play small clubs until 1966 when a gig with the Playboy Club chain in Chicago led to a deal with the Chess subsidiary Cadet Records.

Shaw’s 1969 album track “California Soul” became her signature tune after appearing in several television commercials (Levi’s Dockers, KFC, Dodge Ram trucks). The Ashford-Simpson funk-soul song became a staple on the UK rare groove scene. She released music on the Blue Note label beginning in the 70s.

She sang the theme song “Don’t Ask to Stay Until Tomorrow” from the 1977 film “Looking for Mr. Goodbar.”

Her discography included 17 albums and many collaborations. Shaw continued to record (on Columbia, South Bay, Verve, Polydor, Concord Jazz, and 441 labels) and perform until recently, including at the 2007 North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands.

Condolences may be sent to:
Ms. Marlena Shaw & Family
PO Box 335774
Las Vegas, NV 89033

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