NEW Wattage. Soundcheckin’ In Tokyo

I’m behind on posting clips from my recent sold out shows in Japan at Billboard Live – so here goes. This year’s shows include a sizzling and funky Shalamar medley (of which I was an an original member – still unknown and a surprise to fans who only know my solo work). The reason I’ve worked to include a touch of Shalamar in my shows this time around beyond the theme is more classic hits and beyond – is they fit perfectly with the dance funk hints of disco soul found on a few songs on my forthcoming new album tentatively titled “CHAMELEON” (originally conceived because I’ve always changed and adapted but never tried to blend in) though lately leaning heavily on “My Corner of The Universe”; which is what I continue to carve out through my music and what I hope everyone is able to do joyfully as I do with your own lives.

Jody Watley. New Music Update.

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My recent music collaboration with electro pop duo French Horn Rebellion “Cold Enough” is now available at iTunes from their EP “Love is Dangerous.” This keeps in line with my creative progression and joining forces with unexpected partners and keeps my musical journey fresh. Additionally, I’m going to do some appearances with the band and perform in front of their younger generation unaware of my history (I love that), allowing another type of freedom and broadening of my fan base in a non-contrived way. Often, I feel older fans just want the ‘previous’ and long ago incarnations – namely my first 2 solo albums’ and aren’t always open-minded of my continued growth, creative experimentation and evolution. My thing is to always do what feels natural and authentic to me – and each time I’ve planned, envisioned, conceived, recorded and released an album – my goals and motivations have changed. Each year when The GRAMMY’s come around, and as a former nominee and ‘Best New Artist’ winner; I can truly say that I continue to be a torch bearer for longevity, artistic progression and that indomitable spirit of being ‘new’ – even as I’ve continued to blossom in age.

In line with that, I recently connected with funky Australian and globally acclaimed music artist Sam Sparro and we’re in the midst of a couple of fabulous collaborations – one for Chameleon, one for him. I’m also writing with one of music’s best electronic bands out of London – that I’ve been a fan of since their debut. This is another major major creative milestone for me, and I can’t wait to tell you about it – soon! The one and only ‘modern funk‘ master Dam-Funk is also still in the mix, along with Count De Money and Richard Morel. What’s also fun is the inclusion of one of Shalamar’s original male lead vocalists Gerald “Take That To The Bank” Brown who contributed vocals to one of the mixes of the forthcoming single ‘Nightlife’ – perfect for the classic disco modern funk inspired song-this song and collaboration with Count De Money from Peace Bisquit also provided a perfect way for me to give a node to my Shalamar past. This is quality music as my standards have remained high.

The one time only sold out musical event ‘Loving The Silent Tears’ directed by the legendary Vincent Paterson is still receiving praise around the world. As one of the stars of the global cast if you missed it I must say it was really something to behold and experience. The cast album is available for purchase, including my African tinged ‘A Real Fool’ written and composed by Grammy winner and Emmy nominee Nan Schwartz and Oscar winner Al Kasha. Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/SilentTearsMusical 

Speaking of ‘Chameleon,’ I’ve been working with the title for some time now and have recently considered changing as the process as evolved – we’ll see. One thing is certain – I will be finally be releasing singles and the full length in 2013 the follow-up to my 2006 #3 iTunes Electronic album and former #1 VirginMega exclusive “The Makeover.” Stay tuned.

essence-fest-2013I’m looking forward to my performance this summer at Essence Festival, and will be letting you know about upcoming shows in and a handful of other select rare engagements coming soon. Up next, my concerts on the sold-out first ever ‘Soul Train Cruise: The Hippest Trip At Sea,’  February 17-24. March 23, Yoshi’s Oakland. More to be announced.

It would be great if you share this post with your fellow Jody Watley fans.

Photo: Jody Watley (c)

Jody Watley. In The Studio.

I haven’t been in the studio in months, realizing a much needed a break was n order. Since the age of 5 it seems I’ve been working to toward something. Though always being careful to build a life and not just a career – it occurred to me that my enthusiasm had waned. Not about the music, because I love the music and creative process; it’s the business of making music, the dark and sinister side, the politics. Additionally, the desires of some fans for artists to remain in the box they have constructed in their minds. Those desires are based upon their personal likes and preferences of you in the past. It’s even harder the older an artist  gets, and I’m realistic about it.  I’ve long gotten past the unwillingness to grow and listen to me with an open mind; to meet me where I am and not where I was every step of the way. Evolution is a part of artistry and the only game I play is my own. Peaks and valleys come with the territory especially if you’re trying anything new.  All I can ever  want to be is myself – distinctly Jody Watley each step of my journey, that includes what’s coming next with ‘Chameleon‘ which really brings everything full circle in many ways. I’d like to do something special, as I did with ‘The Makeover’ in terms of release, and so careful consideration is given to that aspect as well.

It’s bizarre to see and hear of so many of music’s great young talents and executives leaving the earth so prematurely, most recently young mega executive Chris Lighty. It’s a bit disturbing to be honest, and very sad. We all have bad days, it’s a part of life but depression is real, and should be discussed more. Beyond the facade of expectation from others help should be sought and it’s not – some can’t pull themselves out of the deep hole of despair. If not careful, the lifestyle of the music business can rob and destroy souls and spirits — regardless of if you have millions in the bank or just starting out. It’s dog eat dog – people will chew you up and spit you out in the business. This is why I do things as I do them..at my own pace not caught up in the highs or lows; never worried about being seen all the time or judged. Being a Mom  has kept me grounded, as well as my own history growing up. As I wrote recently – having balance in my life hasn’t been easy but I made it a priority and have sacrificed a lot…but I am happy about my choices given what I know about this business and how it really is.

Being in the studio it felt great to finish a song like ‘Nightlife’. I danced up a sweat in the vocal booth. People have loved the song when testing it live or from the music snippets on Youtube. ‘Nightlife’ is inspired by classic disco funk. When songs were songs – and also made people dance.  I also nearly completed another inspired by The O’Jays “I Love Music” and a commercial I remember as a little girl for Coca-Cola I believe “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing” – now in need of an African or multi-cultural children’s chorus of singers to enhance the international vibe of the song. I’m so excited about this, having never done anything like it. This is still music you can dance to – rooted in the classics 70′s and 80′s where songs still mattered and not just the groove.

I must say it’s been nice to test some of the new songs from the work in progress “Chameleon” in a live setting here and there over the past year; which led to additional inspiration in my creative process. Though music isn’t selling much anymore and commercial radio hasn’t been the same since deregulation in the 90;s (which is a bit of a drag). The fact that I don’t have a scandal or controversy to generate headlines (a near requirement it seems) is also something I’m aware of – and those things drive consumer awareness. However, my love and passion for music hasn’t waned regardless of the decline of the music business and marketing challenges. In fact, I respect the value of wanting to write and release quality music for the people who still care and appreciate it; not to mention doing work I can be proud of. This music is for an audience who appreciates what I still have to offer as an artist, writer and performer – and those who may discover me for the first time. To create what is authentic to me is always at my core. My intentions as a solo artist and my initial desires remain the same as far as creating music goes – sales and popularity or not.