Renowned jazz and soul singer Marlena Shaw, known for hits like California Soul, has passed away at 81, leaving a musical legacy.

Marlena Shaw (x/@sistersledge_)


Marlena Shaw, a luminary in the jazz and soul music realms, left an indelible mark with a career that spanned decades. Rising to prominence in the 1960s, she enchanted audiences with her soulful voice, earning acclaim for albums like Out of Different Bags and The Spice of Life.

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California Soul:

The pinnacle of Shaw’s career came with her rendition of California Soul, originally performed by The Messengers. Released in 1969, the song not only became her most popular track but also a timeless piece sampled in hip hop and featured in commercials and films, including The Italian Job and The Lincoln Lawyer.

Cause of death:

On January 19, 2024, the world bid farewell to Marlena Shaw, who succumbed to undisclosed causes at the age of 81. Her daughter, Marla Bradshaw, shared the news through a heartfelt Facebook video, revealing that Shaw found solace in her favorite tunes during her final moments.


Born Marlina Burgess on September 22, 1942, in New Rochelle, New York, Shaw’s musical journey began under the influence of her uncle, jazz trumpeter Jimmy Burgess. Her career flourished when she signed with Chess Records in 1966 and later moved to Blue Note Records in 1972, showcasing her ability to seamlessly navigate jazz and soul genres.

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Marlena Shaw’s legacy extends beyond her captivating voice; she paved the way for future artists. Her impact resonates in hip hop, television commercials, and films. As fans and the music industry mourn her loss, tributes pour in, recognizing the enduring contributions of a true jazz legend.