My hope is after this lengthy post, all of you who need to, can move on instead of telling me to, when I have moved on my life as well as solo career represents that. I’ve said for decades I’m thankful for the lessons learned and experience of my brief tenure in Shalamar. I’ve never been angry, resentful or any number of things I’m accused of. I thank all of them for their actions because ultimately it led me to live my best life and step into my destiny as a successful solo artist. People have tried to manufacture fake narratives, drama and imaginary beefs where none exist beyond in their own ego’s and mind. Self projection.
For some none of these facts will mean anything and you’ll still think what you want – that’s fine too. This post is also for me though – needed to get this off my chest and put these facts out here – so I write and backtrack all of this for this blog.
Providing you with a timeline of communications over the years..starting with recent events as they are most relevant, unless you’re a person stuck on events of 20 and over 30 years ago – then working my way to the 1996 – Babyface reunion over 21 years ago that people including Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel, TV-One/Unsung etc are still making much ado about nothing over and being dishonest about it – flat out lies. Trying to make it as if there are ongoing differences when there are not, at least not on my end. I’m simply living my life and handling the business of Jody Watley in my professional life.
We’ve had a few conversations including in the adjoining trailer on Top of The Pops for the Babyface taping, a lengthy phone conversation following that time where both Howard and Jeffrey leaned in on telling me I wasn’t shit without Shalamar despite my massive solo success which made me think how happy I was that we no longer worked together. They were still very disrespectful and incapable of any level of earned respect. There would be later communication years later – so this notion of no contact is completely false, though it is a narrative that permeates throughout the internet fueled by Howard in attempts to damage my reputation and create the false narrative of me being some angry woman – this by someone I only worked in a group with for a mere 4 years nearly 40 years ago.
I usually adhere to the following: what people say about you is none of your business..don’t waste time explaining things to those committed to not understanding and always think of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” – the second agreement is to not take things personally much of what people say is a reflection of them.. there are times though lies must be addressed.
Reading some of the comments, questions..prompted this very lengthy post because I’m tired of the lies against me with regard the whole “Shalamar Reunion” subject – the unnecessary cyber bullying and harassment I receive over a group I quit decades ago is just beyond comprehension.
This was going to be a short blog, however once I began working on it – I figured this may as well be as in-depth as possible. If you’re in a hurry or have a short attention span -you can skip ahead to where I address the lies that have gone on too long by Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel, Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey), various former Solar Records loyalists, Unsung and others involved. I come with receipts, as they say. That’s really what this post is all about, the truth to stop the lies…though I’m sure they will continue to my detractors and those committed to what appears to be a longstanding Jody Watley smear campaign.
All I’ve done is get on with my life and career with outstanding merit and achievements of my own – much to the chagrin of some. There are decades of interviews with me on record saying despite all of it and not all of it was bad..I remain in gratitude for the beginning of my professional career – it helped me learn the business and as a young woman forced me to overcome a lot of things.
For decades now I’ve said in interviews the unexpected death of my father changed how I view and live life. It’s too short to be unhappy, not living and creating our own fulfillment of joy, not to mention – not being compensated fairly. God and the universe are the ultimate provider of my blessings – my parents were my vessels and early teachers in life. ‘She needs to remember where she comes from..” my life began long before Shalamar and did not end there.
It’s no secret that Black women are generally the most marginalized, disrespected, diminished, and dissected across social media and in society. It makes no difference if you’re the First Lady of the United States, an Olympic gymnast, the greatest women in tennis, pop stars, actresses like Leslie Jones attacked for taking a role some thought she shouldn’t be in, executives, journalists – who came to defend mega -star, my colleague and more than baby sister of King Of Pop Janet Jackson, after the Superbowl..or you could be working mothers or students who take heat for wearing cornrows or natural styles, welfare recipients, “baby mamas”, too loud, too spirited, too quiet, too reserved – and so on when so many of us are working our asses off to make things happen and hold things together.
We get demeaned constantly – it’s our hair, our weight, our looks, never good enough for some – doesn’t matter the socioeconomic background or level of intelligence either. Often some of the negativity and hate sadly comes directly from other black women and men. In the midst of being an artist it was my duty to raise another intelligent, strong daughter knowing the challenges not just of being a human being, a woman – add to the mix a girl and woman of color. I have many achievements to be proud of in an ongoing career – that includes hit singles and albums, first of their kind celebrity high profile ad campaigns (GAP, Saks Fifth Avenue, LA Eyeworks), fashion layouts (Harper’s Bazaar, VOGUE, Rolling Stone) where few if any black artists were showcased at the time and other significant benchmarks to numerous to list in an ongoing career- as well I am the only Grammy winning solo artist to emerge from Shalamar…but the one continuously unfairly maligned as the one who needs to get over some imaginary petty grudge and bitterness that has been manufactured by others to suit their own personal feelings and bias against me – because in my 20’s I made a decision to walk away from a situation that did not serve my happiness, was bad business, included consistent demeaning behavior by some but as I’ve said would not trade it..was not all bad, and even in the – it was life lessons and I’m glad it happened. Proud to have been part of a beloved R&B trio already in the history books – as I went on to make my own solo history. I am blessed and always in gratitude as I continue to evolve and grow and to have stepped into my ultimate destiny to be solo star, writer, producer, entrepreneur, style icon – JODY WATLEY. The bitterness is in others.
If anyone is under any doubt who received the backlash from Unsung – just visit some of the comments around the web. A sampling of comments directed at me:
This was one that I came across actually made me laugh since no man has ever taken care of me. As a note to Jamone, I’m still single-handedly sending my youngest to college and have always been the self-sufficient bread-winner-even during a brief marriage. A self financed artist and label owner since 1995; there are men on my payroll having employed men for decades, from producers, co-producers, remixers, band members, photographers, designers, executives and other staff. So yea..”..gold digging bitch”.. Smh – the misogyny is real.
No one can ever make you feel less than you are without your consent, so these types of comments don’t phase me, I have to laugh. My sound and style contributed to the success of Shalamar – if some people don’t think so, cool. Doesn’t change my life, career or the past contributions and what I’m doing now.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion..and when you’re tagged they want to make sure you know their opinion – such as Charmaine and Jo Ann – other black women. There are hundreds like them venting hatred of me and others in the public eye – there’s also a lot of love. That’s where my focus is, however it’s important not to live in that bubble. Sometimes you’ve got to see the hate. If you check Jo Anne Fair’s page you’ll see Christian scriptures, although very judgmental of me .. typical. I wonder when people leave a negative comment, does it make them feel pleased with themselves in that moment..probably. Glad to not be them and I think of Don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements” – the second agreement is to not take things personally, the garbage people try to inflict upon you is really what they feel.
It’s amazing as well that if I’m so insignificant, as some say and post to me..why do I keep ending up as the focus of these Unsungs? As of right now, today and as trademark owner – as long as they don’t use my likeness, or any false misleading tactics, Howard is free to be Shalamar featuring Howard Hewett , Jeffrey Daniel and Carolyn Griffey like they’ve been doing.. and remember there was a Shalamar after both Jeffrey Daniel and I both quit (cue DeLisa Davis, Micki Free, Sidney Justin). Make sure to keep supporting Howard, Jeffrey and the Baldwin Griffey group (keep reading), especially you Charmaine who took time to tag me, though she doesn’t follow me. It’s totally fine with me if anyone thinks Shalamar is Howard, that’s great what would be the reason for a reunion in that case?! Jody Watley went on to make a name for myself – separate from Shalamar and not an easy feat.
No doubt there will be no response after presenting these hard facts because you bitter Shalamar fans don’t like the truth, you want to exist in the lies and emotions in your own heads.
This isn’t really about a Shalamar Reunion, this is all anti Jody Watley from my point of view rooted in envy. People take voiceovers from Unsung “..Jody Watley has declined all reunions” (something I’ve never said) which is a flat out lie – as gospel.
“Unsung” – I’m not. Having achieved what many black artists strive for – crossover success. There’s no reason for me to have a grudge with anyone, but there are those who definitely hold a grudge against me because of my solo success and independence. I’ve never been a ‘just fall back in line’, ‘know your place’ ‘do what you’re told’ kind of gal.
Workers of iniquity want to see you fail or go crawling in a hole of contrition somewhere, fall off, self destruct..who knows.
Stop wasting energy. People post to me “Life is too short..let it go” Let what go?? I say follow your own advice it has nothing to do with me.
Focused as always on my life, career and moving forward working on and releasing new music – new ventures, collaborations is what I’m about in my professional life.
Being dragged into unwarranted negativity and fake drama from a recent TV-One Unsung Howard Hewett – basically Unsung Shalamar Part 2 was like OK, this again? My image, name and likeness were used to drive views in social media and ratings for the broadcast walking a thin line into libel and defamation – lies, lies and more lies.
Unsung / TV-One / Unsung Producers:
Here are some facts, to be clear I had very volatile interactions with both Howard and Jeffrey in the past from verbal and physical abuse for starters, as soon as I choose to leave Shalamar it was over and behind me from my point of view, all was forgiven – I was free to begin anew with lessons learned of that time .. that said The “Jody Watley has refused ALL requests for Shalamar Reunion” lie and narrative was first broadcast in 2009 with Unsung Shalamar but has been long perpetuated by Howard and his people and some in urban media. At the time because so many people wanted to know my thoughts on the broadcast. There were so many glaring omissions so I expressed my thoughts in Jody Watley Unsung Unfiltered on my Youtube channel. The omission of original male lead Gerald Brown was glaring in as much as he was clowned by Jeffrey Daniel in the episode about him waiting on a phone call – though the producers never reached out to Gerald to substantiate or get his side of what led to his departure. Gerald is included in my Unfiltered Part 8 the conclusion. Watch
In 7 years, more has happened as life and business have gone on. The production company A. Smith and Co has updated it to include the daughter of Dick Griffey who has never sang on one song with Shalamar – not one hit or album yet they revised to include her, a woman who has a personal vendetta against me which began with her father. Still no Gerald Brown though, who sang on our hit “Take That To The Bank” it’s all very shady.
I registered the Shalamar trademark to stop false ads, akin to stopping identity theft – not to stop anyone from touring – period.
Using old photo’s of Shalamar with me in it a ploy to help market and sell shows while putting Carolyn Griffey’s name next to my face was unethical no matter how much they said screw you, Dick Griffey owned all the photo’s so we can do what we want. My actions were nothing personal nor designed to stop anyone from working. I have no differences with anyone beyond the false ads..not to mention using old recordings with my vocals to help market shows.
A. Smith and Unsung Producers of which Howard is one updated and edited the Unsung Shalamar in 2015 after I registered the mark and after the original 2009 airing concluded “Shalamar had faded into obscurity after 1990..” This was nothing short of an effort by TV-One/Unsung/A.Smith Co the Griffey’s, Hewett and Daniel – to assist in Baldwin (Griffey) in her trademark challenge to try give her credibility and acceptance with the public here in the United States. (Update: she lost her challenge in February of 2017 with the USPTO). There have been lawsuits filed or anything of the sort – if anyone says so, there are just trying to keep lies going.
Her challenge case status is a “Motion to Compel” (basically now she has to be forced to turn over documents to back up her claims in her challenge), meaning beyond some emails we’re waiting on real paperwork to back up her claims. The Motion To Compel was filed by my attorney Michael L. Lovitz on The Motion is viewable on the USPTO website.
That said – here’s the real deal and why I’m tired of the constant lies and misinformation purposely put out to create backlash, negative sentiments with the black/urban fans of the old group with regard to me. Misinformation is designed to undermine and damage my personal reputation and professional livelihood.
Howard and Jeffrey have not been trying to work with me for twenty years – they are under contract to the Griffey family who has dictated who they can work with if they are to do ‘Shalamar’ and that female is Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey), this fact that neither Howard or Jeffrey will acknowledge in favor of the tired narratives they peddle came out during Carolyn’s challenge.
Howard and Jeffrey and I went into the studio to record a song my ‘1998 Flower’ album at the behest of Atlantic Records,Craig Kalman – in the end the song wasn’t used, neither of them every mention the recording session – rather they keep imaginary ‘beef’ going instead.
When registering the mark which became effective May 23 2014 USPTO #4,530,877 (covered already in various interviews and blog posts here on my site) – I’d extended an invitation to Howard to join me for a few dates.
My initial concept for “Shalamar” (you can’t register a mark and not use it and so I had to set make a plan). Initially, “Shalamar” under my legally registered trademark would with Gerald Brown (who remains a friend of mine) a collaborator on the hit single “Nightlife.” In the end Gerald was unable to do what we’d planned causing me to revise things with regard to the use of the trademark; again it only came about from my end to stop the misuse of my likeness, false ads, bait & switch to which Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey) and her mother felt she had every right to misuse including putting her name next to my likeness as if Jody Watley was never in Shalamar.
Email Excerpts November 3, 2014:
Blocked! I attempted to look up a tweet Howard had tagged me in last year to the effect of “People are asking what I think of @jodywatley Shalamar Reloaded..I’m not interested in that..” It was something to that effect, as I tend to do – simply ignored it. Back in 2015 his tweet to me was followed by a series of tags/tweets from his friends online bully Vijay Bhuchar (the Shalamar/Shalamar Friends friend and t-shirt vendor in the UK) and oddly singer Phil Perry. I never responded nor acknowledged it. I had to laugh at loud when I saw “You are blocked..” Really? Who’s mad?
**Update (Sept.12, 2016) thank you to the fan on Twitter who pulled this tweet I was referring too and a few more..”
The line-up that tours the UK with Carolyn; a woman who never song on one hit single or classic album is now #TheRealShalamar ? Ok…
I googled this…as an example of the constant lies “Howard Hewett Talks Rift with Jody Watley..” October 2015..Majic1023 — https://twitter.com/mymajic1023/status/660280161863147520
“..you can’t still be mad after 30 years..” referring to me, Jody Watley when really Howard must be speaking of himself ” further adds “..she got the trademark illegally..” more lies and slander from Howard Hewett on Tom Joyner Morning Show
What rift????!Mad at what??!! I am tired of these lies, but still not mad, and classy enough to smile when we bumped into each other at the airport.
In this instance I have every right to be annoyed at the constant attempts to damage my reputation to put a damper on the love and respect that so many do have for me. The above links interview are after these emails initiated by me further disproving the constant need to mislead the public, attempting to create a negative backlash ..
Stop the lies, and attacks against me. I’m not the one with the grudge – clearly, why someone continuously creates a false narrative of imaginary differences is beyond. It’s called gaslighting.
When I reached out to Howard October 13, 2014..it took him nearly a month to see it..check it and a year later October 2015 he continues to speaks of the imaginary ‘..rift..’ instant airtime with Tom Joyner..who, I’d add – never had me to come on and reply to these lies and allegations..
What rift, other than the one Howard obviously wants people to think exists – and maybe it does within himself – maybe one day he can move on, let it go and stop being petty by peddling lies as well as those who work with him who hide behind troll accounts and bolding trying to tarnish my name across the web.
Hadn’t spoken to Jeffrey in over nearly 15 years. He was desperate to talk to me. He, Howard, Caroyln and their manager Michael Gardner were up in arms about the fact I’d started a new group. Jeffrey contacted me through booking agent Sal Michaels at Pyramid, he had been a booking agent of Shalamar in the 80’s and we’d recently reconnected. Sal was being harassed and threatened with lawsuits to sabotage my efforts by Michael Gardner on behalf Baldwin, Jeffrey and Howard.
One of many emails threatening to sue (without merit) in an attempt to sabotage booking efforts.
I will only excerpt the relevant portion with regard to Shalamar and potentially working together. Perhaps the question to him is why do you keep saying Jody is the reason there’s never been a reunion, though from his comments on Unsung, I think Jeffrey is suffering extreme memory loss and speaking with him confirmed my suspicion- that or denial. Knowing the facts of the Dick Griffey mandate and the fact they never asked me prior to that with any real specifics is what he should convey and recent talks rather than over 20 years ago.
Jeffrey Daniel January 2015 Email:
Maybe someone can ask Jeffrey why he hasn’t mentioned this most recent correspondence from last year – why the lie about Jody being the problem? What problem? Why is it he only brings conversation from the 90’s and not the most recent?
Because Jeffrey and I exchanged conversation about his family, his children, his God-daughters in Lagos, my children, etc..I have only extracted what he said in regards to possibly getting together “Shalamar.” They went on to a festival ‘Let’s Rock Bristol’ – as my group had done the year before at Let’s Rock London. Not another peep from Jeffrey who I gather is powerless which is sad for him as the only original of those 3.
For reasons only Howard and Jeffrey knows – they continue to perpetuate the lie that I’ve been the problem with “Reunion” knowing the truth is they haven’t asked me – even when they did a “Reunion Tour in the UK called “The Second Time Around Tour” using my likeness mind you, to generate more commerce in fees. I was told by fans there of them telling the audiences I didn’t show, couldn’t make it but was welcome anytime – also not true. This year I found out the real reason behind why they haven’t asked me – provided by Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey stage name) in some emails in her declaration.
Here’s an example of what led me to research the actual ownership as a refresher – I’ve covered this is a couple of other blog posts and interviews.
Read the ad..Imagine that – only the woman in the photo is me – Jody Watley.
The emails below became a part of the Baldwin (Griffey) challenge this year with the TTAB (Trademark and Appeals Board) – it made everything make sense.
Emails from Dick Griffey mandating who will be in “Shalamar” among other revelations. This is not proof of ownership, as a note – just someone demanding someone follow his demands – something they continue to do. This fact was certainly not covered in Unsung nor any interview they’ve done. Instead – they say Jody won’t do it..the truth is, they are doing what they were told by Dick Griffey dating back to 2001 apparently.
It’s easier to throw me under the bus than admit they Howard and Jeffrey work under the belief that “Shalamar” belongs to Carolyn (Baldwin) Griffey and they back her up. Why not include that in Howard’s Unsung..rather than the fake narrative? Instead, you get manufactured “beef ” so that the public can accept Carolyn and buy into the lie that “Jody Watley has refused all reunions..”
These documents are a part of the Baldwin challenge to my legal registration with the USPTO which stopped them for advertising in the UK using images that included me – Jody Watley and changing my name to hers – as if she were the original woman in Shalamar which is also of course not true. They had a charade going – I stopped it for those who question how I came to the trademark. Even as owner at the outset, my attorney told them they could use the name just stop false ads.
The “Real” Shalamar according to Howard, Jeffrey and Carolyn:
**Updated (Sept.12, 2016) thank you to the fan who in-boxed me on Twitter.
Presented to my attorney Michael L. Lovitz, IP Law and in declaration documents.
Despite this and the recent public revelations in the United States – it was only after my registration that they began to mention her by name – in fact they just apparently introduced her in July 0f 2015..after using my likeness in the UK for years – the charade was over because of my registration.
2015 – the introduction, after 14 years..but she’s been in it since 2001 right?
BET Awards 2014 – BET and Jesse Collins Ent. offered me a solo spotlight and Shalamar reunion surprise appearance – I agreed and in the end said no because the producers were not holding up to their end of the offer, we could not agree creatively as they wanted to turn it into something else entirely – again, this is a business one shouldn’t have to dim a light for others to shine and why do it if not for maximum impact, it was not about just getting onstage crooning ballads. Agreements are to be honored not baited and switched. BET, Jesse Collins, Mike Gardner manager and Howard Hewett were the reason this performance subsequently never happened. They wanted to add a Howard feature and I was fine with it..though it was not in their offer to me…it went downhill from there.
BET Acceptance Letter:
Jeffrey Email RE: BET / Howard Email Excerpts:
Essence Festival Pitch from Avid – 2014
In a follow-up phone call with with Wallace Butts of Avid Music Inc, it was reiterated there was no interest in a ‘Shalamar Reunion’ as I gauged interest post trademark registration.
2011 – After meeting concert promoter / producer friend to Howard Hewett Bill Hammond at a charity event, he was keen on discussing a possible “Reunion” tour. Bill has a past history in quality events. I pitched the “Farewell” concert for the USA to give closure to the American fans who are still interested.
This time it all fell apart when he told me he’d had a great conversation with Howard but that Carolyn would have to be involved and we’d need her permission, she’d need to be on background vocals – there was never another woman singing with Shalamar when I was in it – there was no need and no need to start. My voice and tone always held it down, nothings changed. Howard was looking out for Carolyn and that’s his choice so it’s perfect he continues to work for the Griffey’s and remain loyal to them.
I choose to have no dealings with the Griffey’s in any capacity – Dick Griffey himself was never a fan of mine and treated me with disrespect not to mention not properly compensating us – that era taught me what not to accept moving forward and I remain grateful for the experience, however those days are gone.
No smart business person is walking back into that situation. Any of the former members could have also done what I did and researched the trademark instead of accepting wolf tickets.
Bill Hammond Email: 2011 Farewell Tour Conversation
Excerpt continued from March 29, 2011 email exchange with Bill Hammond
I opted out of pursuing it further once Howard said Carolyn would have to giver permission and also be a part of it..No thanks.
THIS. The Charade. Hit Me Baby One More Time.
2005 – I was deep into ambient electronica ‘Midnight Lounge” era musically and creatively. It’s one of my best albums and most critically acclaimed. Jeffrey, Howard and Carolyn go on UK Hit Me Baby One More Time and are introduced as “Shalamar” back together again – “Reunited.” Jeffrey proclaims “it’s like when we were here back in the day – not when Howard and I were here..when “we” were here as they all gather around to look at the footage. The video package with old footage features me – Jody Watley performing and intermixed with Carolyn implying it’s the same person – reunited remember. When she says “Oh, look – there’s Jermaine” that was like whoa – my best friend who wrote a song about me – Jody. Why use Carolyn to point out Jermaine..hmm – obvious. The charade begins. Was I asked to be a part of this? No. Read earlier mandate by Dick Griffey..tell the truth guys.
Carolyn, you’re not the original woman in Shalamar. Making sure she was not introduced by name in 2005. A simple Shalamar is back with a new member..but – no. The UK has been made to believe – she is me since 2005, until I stopped the falsehoods.
WATCH!! Jody Watley, the one some say insignificant to “Shalamar” always right there..my likeness and old Shalamar images, Soul Train..music video, performances..”They’re back!” Really?
How many closeups of me, Jody Watley can you count? Even Gerald Brown “Take That To The Bank” is used in the package as well. Notably though, when they take the stage there’s no distinction made of who is on the stage..that’s not me, Jody Watley but certainly I was used without permission..they could have had the real thing but they chose an imposter. Did they or any of their reps reach out to me? No and as I said, it all made sense once the emails provided by Carolyn for her challenge of my registration were in my possession as a part of this legal journey.
Going back, at the time my website was called missjodywatley.com – I was flooded with messages that Jeffrey and Howard were trying to pass some girl off as me on a TV show. This is how I came to know about it. I addressed it on the site and made it clear it wasn’t me and that what they were doing was not OK. I received an email from Tunde Babola, Jeffrey’s longtime manager and friend. I use to have to occasional friendly exchange with Tunde until that point. He admonished me for the post clarifying the charade – and told me to take it down. I said there was no reason to take it down and the false presentation wasn’t legal or right. He told me, and I’ll never forget it “Lest you forget, Dick Griffey owns Shalamar lock, stock and barrel..” to which my reply was “Well I own Jody Watley and this website lock, stock and barrel and if you don’t like my posts stay off of my website. I’ve never spoken to him since. When the video’s were posted on Youtube, it was truly flabbergasting to actually see what they’d done and it still is. I forgive them, it’s all really low and pathetic to me. It’s a reminder of how shady this business and how people can be while in the public presenting something entirely different; including using the umbrella of being ‘a Christian.’ Your beliefs don’t make you righteous, your behavior does.
2000 – Jeffrey says he asked me once around this time to perform with them in his email to me from January 2015 and I turned it down. I don’t recall it, nor do I recall ever receiving a firm contract offer or anything of that nature. In 1999-2000 for was going into my experimental electronica era. The Saturday Night Experience Vol. 1 featuring Jody Watley. There was no photo of me on the cover, just sound waves.
I was burnt out on the commercial part of the business and more in the underground rejuvenation phase – as well I was deep into motherhood enjoying raising my children who have always been my priority. During this time, I also wanted to distance myself from the 80’s which had been so good to me and continue to pay my bills- over time, I came back around to that and put those songs back in my show.
If I did decline that one time, I suppose it wasn’t to be revisited? It’s as if in their world people and philosophies don’t change. Frozen in time, that’s how some are and that’s fine for them. They don’t grow, change evolve -and remain rigid, never progressing in life. People change their minds all the time -the next day, week, month or year…it’s kind of funny when you think about it. There’s a favorite moment, a teachable lesson from daughter when she was little-she loved broccoli..and then she didn’t, when I asked ‘But I thought you liked broccoli..she replied “Well Mommie, taste buds change you know..” it’s a metaphor for life.
Adding more back story to this period – During this time I hired Jeffrey for shows to Japan to do “Shalamar” segment. Ironically Rosero from SRL was a dancer with me then and was on the trip. The execs at MJJ had taken Jeffrey off payroll and he was having financial issues. I extended help to someone who I’ve always had a tumultuous off and on friendship, though he remains in denial about that fact. But even if we are no longer friends, I will help someone like that because holding onto tribulations is a waste of energy. After that trip in 2000 -we never spoke after that until January 2015 when he contacted Sal Michaels at Pyramid desperate to talk to me – I’ll save that for my memoir.
1998 – Just One More Time. Howard, Jeffrey and I went into the studio to record the song “Just One More Time” for Atlantic Records, it was written and produced by Jamey Jaz. We recorded, all three of us together on Beverly Blvd atWestlake Studios. This fact can be substantiated by Craig Kalman of Atlantic and other former executives such as John “Johnny D” DeMairo and Rich Christina. The song of which I have somewhere deep in storage on a cassette and recently asked Jamey if he had his copy and said no. It was scrapped in favor of my solo performance as Craig was unhappy with the outcome of it. He lost interest in perhaps trying another song because he said Hewett’s voice had lost it’s magic and we didn’t sound good together. I have no idea why neither Howard or Jeffrey acknowledge this fact – but continue to go with the “..our hopes are dashed because of Jody Watley” even after decades. People comment to me with such conviction in their vitriol..forgive yourselves for attacking me over things you have no clue about and move on. Tell the truth guys. Why don’t you mention this???? Drama sells.
1996 – The Babyface Reunion Album — Howard, Jeffrey and myself were in negotiations for a Shalamar Reunion album. At first, I wasn’t that into it. Babyface convinced me how great it would be and also he spoke of his past not always pleasant dealings with Dick Griffey. My potential deal was being negotiated by Rosalyn E. Jones, ESQ my longtime entertainment attorney. In the end there was no agreement – no deal could be reached. Howard’s manager wanted more money for him..we were not a group and hadn’t been for over decade and this harkened back to when I left Shalamar in the first place due to Howard; making his own side deals with Griffey who was not paying me or Jeffrey what we deserved. To Dick Griffey we were always those ‘dancers’. That’s not badmouthing the man, that’s my experience and at one time Jeffrey’s – but he doesn’t remember that. The break-up in 1983: Melody Maker – read what Jeffrey said when it was all fresh. HERE
This is business, I’m not a dancer, or some naive girl floundering and clueless. I’m an established artist, a business woman. It wasn’t me trying to get more than everyone else though surely I’d earned the same right. Sure, it could have been cool but it didn’t work and I am a big believer that some things happen for a reason – pay attention to the universe and life. I have great respect for Babyface. I nearly worked with him when I was on MCA but it never happened..I don’t walk around pissed off that it didn’t work out. Life goes on, but that’s just me.
1996 – Top of The Pops Taping on Santa Monica Pier – all of us together…what is the reason TV-One, Unsung, A. Smith and Co Productions, Howard, Jeffrey continue to omit this? It doesn’t feed the Jody Watley has refused all reunions lie. I had no problem appearing with them although it was disappointing that they didn’t want to rehearse or work with a choreographer so we were just milling about in the performance – but that’s was just my input then. People need to stop acting like it never happened in favor of fake drama where there was none. Why isn’t this ever shown in these Unsung Shalamar episodes?
This video was uploaded by my company under the account Classic Shalamar on November 2011 another reaction to the false statement that Jody Watley has declined ALL Reunions made in Unsung Shalamar, 2009. Otherwise, it’s unlikely anyone else would have..Howard, Jeffrey, Babyface, LL Cool J, A.Smith and Co, Unsung, know of this video and taping in 1996 – but yet…I’ve refused ALL reunions. Stop it.
1996 – “For The Lover In You” Video Babyface with Hype Williams. The blown out of proportion “Jody refused to film with us..”. I was flying in from concerts in Japan and it made sense in the end to simply film my scene on green screen as Hype said he was doing with all of us anyway from what I recall. An appointment with the stylist was made of Williams’ choosing, the awesome June Ambrose. She pulled hot pieces, I selected the leather maxi – had no clue what Jeffrey and Howard chose – we were not a group.
The day of the shoot each Howard and Jeffrey had filmed their scene by the time I arrived. Was there someone there who said, you can’t talk to Jody? No, and no big deal. It was a job, I showed up, did my part and that was that. It was three people shooting scenes for a song we all had a part in. That said did I have concerns about how the vibe would be from two men I hadn’t worked with in a long time and had some negative and positive encounters the years since? Yes of course, anyone would have. This was about scheduling, not shade throwing. Williams never said we can’t do this if you’re not all together.
I would totally acquised to that if that was the case. I never thought it would become an ‘issue’ for some and used as a part of a smear campaign.
If it were such a big problem for me and no one could ‘get Jody Watley in the room..and the “what shade went down” lie — what changed in a few weeks for the taping of Top Of The Pops on the Santa Monica Pier? Why didn’t I simply decline participating at all? Why do you think this fact has been left out twice now on a national documentary series, which be repeated over and over? It’s a better story and drama sells – the villian in this story has been purposefully made to be me – Jody Watley, the Grammy winning artist with the crossover career..Chew on that.
Despite these facts, when I bumped to Howard again recently at the airport (he’d dashed out quickly when he saw me on arrival after autograph seekers alerted me to his presence) as fate would have it we were on the same return flight. Trust me he was very much the cat who swallowed the canary when I was in proximity and he had to speak..I was cordial, we spoke, I filmed a video – we on the same flight and never said another word after that. I could have confronted him for all of the lies and false statements about me but as Michelle Obama said “When they go low – we go high.”
Hewett also recently went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and slandered me saying I’d committed fraud by registering the trademark, a claim without merit intended to damage my reputation. Lies and pettiness. Currently a Motion to Compel is pending with the USPTO Trademark and Appeals Board because Baldwin (Griffey) has yet to cooperate in proving her case. (Update: Baldwin Griffey lost her challenge with USPTO as of February 2017).
We were and are all different people. Personally, I’m always evolving but I really don’t have time for negative people, people who don’t respect me, uplift me as I do those around me..any situation that’s not going to be joyful why bother? My thing, and you can go back and read decades of my interviews – it’s always about being happy at the core of all that I do in this life that presents it’s highs, lows, challenges and triumphs. My focus is always what I’m in the moment doing and promoting – not what I’ve done unless in brief context in questions asked when I’m doing promotions. There’s nothing to repair.
In Carolyn Baldwin’s declaration and challenge from 2014 she got a statement from former Solar Records attorney Virgil Roberts. Virgil said in his statement that while he and Griffey urged me to stay and what a mistake it would be I allegedly said “I’d rather be a ticket taker at The Baldwin Hills Theater than to stay in this group..” great line for the movie of my life! I was barely into my 20’s – I’ve always had guts, balls and faith. As long as I’m happy – I’m good. Money doesn’t buy that. Jody Watley – petty? No, just a smart young lady who grew into an even smarter woman defining her life – her way. Still learning, still growing – some people will never like me for being me I’m good with that.
Howard, Jeffrey and I are strangers in many regards who were once in a group, put together by fate for a very brief time – but we made a great mark. It’s cool to be a part of that and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated it a lot more no matter how difficult or tumultuous it was, there was some good in it too. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s a small part of my life that helped teach me, if only what I don’t like, or my own value when others constantly tried to demean me (and still in their lies) – as some do now. Former colleagues (I know some may cringe at that) though I don’t know what else to refer to us as – we are not friends but that doesn’t make for enemies either..nor should it make people lie. We are frozen for all time on past recordings and the shows we did 79-83, 4 years a couple of lifetimes ago.
Let it be what it was because it will never be that again. Move on people – because I have. That doesn’t make me bitter, it simply males me a person confident in living the life I choose with joy. I consider it a blessing that everything happened for me to quit Shalamar – thank you to all involved for the experience. It opened up the doors of wisdom and boundaries and higher standards for myself to truly live my best life.
To the old school fans –Enjoy the way that music that made you feel good and recall those special moments what you thought was great chemistry – it’s never coming back that started to corrode in 1982 and came to an end in 1983 (Jeffrey break-up interview from 1983 – Here) ..Go try to make new special moments and memories that’s what life should be about as long as we’re here. Some things as much as you may want aren’t meant to be. Anyone who follow me knows that I’m always saying others that the best days aren’t behind – appreciate the past yes..but hey we’re all still here – LIVE LIFE. That’s what my current “Paradise” release is all about.
Those old Shalamar days – that’s probably as good as it’s going to get for some but not me as my career has already proven.
So-Howard and Jeffrey, take responsibility, stop the lies and carry on with Carolyn. Own what you’re doing with her – it’s OK if you guys choose to be loyal to the Griffey’s and the days gone by of Solar Records.
Maya Angelou – Still I Rise.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
As I proceed, forward.
“You can drill holes in my boat but I will always float to the top! I eat from the tops of trees bitches!!! WATTAGE!!!! Keep the lights on and burn brightly… My flame may flicker but that shit is still burning bitches!!!! ” Thank you to my friend Sandra Green for sending me these words of encouragement and inspiration as I was finishing this.
My solo career continues as the SRL collective will remain an extension of what I do – and we continue to do what works for us understanding not everyone will be with it, including certain urban media outlets in particular and of course the record buying public. Not everyone likes a woman in the driving seat, or that it’s a group with two men or..you name it..some people will never like me period. As I said earlier, it won’t change my life, destiny or path one bit beyond making me stronger and more focused.
Ultimately.. I will continue living be best life – in gratitude even with obstacles. I’ll also continue to wish my haters well and being an inspiration to all.