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Celebrating the Legacy of Music Icon Tina Turner

Tina Turner

Posted: May 27, 2023 at 9:18 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Legendary pop star and rock icon Tina Turner died Wednesday, May 24th in her home in Switzerland. As released by her publicist, Turner passed away at the age of 83 after a lengthy illness. Although the cause of death was not specified, the prolific singer chronicled some of her health conditions in her last memoir, which included kidney failure, intestinal cancer, and a stroke.

“With her, the world loses a music legend and a role model,” said Turner’s publicist, Bernard Doherty, in his statement. On her official Twitter page, a Tweet was sent out to announce her passing

Turner’s long musical career has traversed many genres, spanning hits in pop, rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and soul, many also steeped with notable influences of gospel and blues. Tina Turner’s voice has captivated listeners and inspired decades of performers. Her sound is expansive, raw, and energetic, arching from the heartfelt tones of soulful ballads to husky rock ‘n’ roll growls.

Several prominent artists from Beyoncé and Janet Jackson to J.Lo and Kelly Clarkson have cited the singer as an influence. The body of work left by Tina Turner will likely continue to inspire future generations of musicians from all backgrounds and musical genres for countless years to come, as has her story of overcoming adversity.

Born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939, the iconic singer of “What’s Love Got To Do With It” lived a tumultuous life punctuated by trauma and bold resilience. Growing up in Tennessee, she had a strained relationship with both parents, their marriage being characterized by the same abuse that Tina Turner would find herself facing in future years.

Turner was relocated frequently throughout her childhood, living for a period with various grandparents after her father remarried and her mother left. Singing and performing became a refuge for the young girl, one which would carry her through many future traumas as well.

At 16, Tina Turner moved to St. Louis with her mother and sister Alline. It was here she met her future husband and collaborator, Ike Turner. After seeing him perform at the venue Club Manhattan in East St. Louis as Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm, Tina Turner joined the group in 1957. The group was eventually renamed Ike and Tina Turner Revue, underlining the impact of Tina Turner on the group’s success.

The band put out such hits as “River Deep – Mountain High” and “Proud Mary” garnering much attention in the R&B circuit.

However, Tina Turner’s relationship with Ike Turner was marked heavily by trauma. By many accounts, the relationship was both emotionally and physically abusive, Ike Turner exhibiting controlling behavior over the crowd-drawing singer as exemplified in one such instance as his renaming of the singer as “Tina Turner” and then trademarking the name, both without her consent.

In an interview with CBS anchor Gayle King, Tina Turner recounted that Ike Turner “was cruel because he depended on me. He didn’t like that he had to depend on me. And I didn’t want to start a fight because it was always a black eye, a broken nose, a busted lip.”

Although Tina Turner was vocal about her struggles, she never fully revealed all the details of their relationship, telling the New York Times in 2019, “I think I’m ashamed. I feel I told enough.”

According to her accounts, Tina Turner left Ike in 1976 with just 36 cents in her pocket, amidst a tour the two were on. She then turned her focus to working solely for herself. After the release of two albums that failed to chart, Tina Turner experienced a resurgence in the 1980s, eclipsing the moderate fame she had previously attained.

In 1984, Tina Turner released her fifth solo album, Private Dancer, which included the No. 1 solo hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It” among its tracklist. The single won Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Performance in 1985, establishing Turner’s reemergence and heralding her return to mainstream media as a fierce survivor and cultural music icon at the age of 45.

Tina Turner continued her meteoric second rise by co-starring alongside Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, recording multiple hits and becoming an MTV icon performing at the inaugural MTV Video Music Awards. Tina Turner was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, not once but twice, first in 1991 with Ike Turner and again in 2021 as a solo artist.

In her lifetime, Tina Turner won 12 Grammy awards – eight in competitive categories and three Grammy Hall of Fame awards in addition to a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her vivacious image and spirit have inspired countless young women of color to feel empowered and remain resilient in the face of adversity.

After her passing, fans gathered at the Tina Turner Museum in Tennessee. One such fan attested to the inspiration of Tina Turner’s film role as Auntie Entity in the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

“She was fierce, and she was strong, and she was powerful, and that has stayed with me,” said Lisa Lyons, attending the museum after Tina Turner’s death. “As a little girl of color who didn’t have that type of role model in real life, it has stuck with me all these years.”

The museum, which sits inside the restored single-room schoolhouse that Tina Turner once attended, holds a collection of memorabilia including glittering gowns, costumes, and other ephemera of the aptly titled “Queen of Rock.” The schoolhouse, built by Tina Turner’s great uncle in 1889, was moved from her nearby hometown of Nutbush to Brownsville after closing in 1960.

It now stands as a testament to the dynamic career of one of America’s greatest and most influential rock icons. A twilight memorial will be held Sunday, May 28th on the grounds of the museum to honor her legacy.

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