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Jody Watley, singer/songwriter/producer/businesswoman, is one of the architects of 21st century pop. From her groundbreaking marriage of rap & R&B (1987’s “Friends,” a collaboration with hip-hop legends Eric B. & Rakim) to her vision-forward marriage of high fashion, street fashion and music in the ‘80s (long before it became the norm), to her fusion of jazz and underground club culture with keen pop instincts, and the ease with which she crossed and still crosses genre, Ms. Watley forged the template that is now everybody’s playbook. Winner of the Best New Artist Grammy in 1987, Jody Watley’s entire career has been about looking forward, drawing inspiration from personal heroes like Grace Jones, David Bowie, Diana Ross and jazz great Nancy Wilson – iconoclasts who were always ten steps ahead of the pack. The Chicago native’s eclectic repertoire – R&B, hip-hop, House, jazz, pop, drum & bass, ambient, spoken-word – is built on a positive vision and a strong taste for artistic and aesthetic risk. Her self-titled 1987 solo debut – a showcase for her vocal chops and songwriting skills – was a beats & grooves tribute to her club kid roots, from the underground spots she frequented as a teenager to her stardom (while still a teen) as one of the most popular dancers in the history of iconic TV show “Soul Train.” It yielded the chart topping hits “Looking for a New Love” (which launched the Jody-penned phrase “Hasta la vista” into popular vernacular, becoming so huge that Arnold Schwarzenegger jacked it for his signature line in the movie The Terminator), “Don’t You Want Me,” “Most of All,” “Some Kind of Lover” and “Still a Thrill,” whose video was the first (and as yet unmatched) time a pop star flexed their skills at waaking, the underground Los Angeles dance that is a sibling to both breakdancing and voguing. 1989’s Larger Than Life, her blockbuster sophomore album, yielded the hits “Real Love” (whose influential music video – nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards – was her second collaboration with acclaimed film director David Fincher, the first being her sleek video for “Most of All”), “Friends,” and the sultry ballad “Everything.” They were all huge hits. Like many artists who top the charts, Ms. Watley soon found herself stymied by the limited vision of her label, who wanted to shoehorn her into formula. The albums Affairs of the Heart (1991) and Intimacy (1993) displayed her deepening songwriting skills and singing prowess, as well as her assured experimentation with layered musical textures, but label support was missing in action. The powerful, beat-driven spoken-word track “When a Man Loves a Woman” from Affairs sparked controversy for addressing AIDS and domestic violence long before they were topics of national conversation, and her skittish label turned its back on the track and album. Though Ms. Watley’s artistry continued to deepen and grow, she was hamstrung by her label’s lack of support and their adherence to the same narrow definitions of success that saw her leave iconic R&B group Shalamar at the height of its popularity in 1983. Her own definition of success centered then and now on artistic growth and freedom, not simply replicating whatever was or is hot at the moment. After breaking from the majors and starting her own label Avitone Recordings in 1995, Ms. Watley began collaborating with a Who’s Who of visionary producers and remixers, many of whom were longtime fans and jumped at the chance to work with her: 4 Hero, King Britt, Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez & Little Louie Vega, Mark de Clive Lowe, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Ron Trent, Moto Blanco, and Alex Di Ciò. Thanks to her non-stop touring, her global fan base remains as fervent as ever and they’ve made chart and club hits of Ms. Watley’s indie albums – Affection (1995), Flower (1998), The Saturday Night Experience (1999), Midnight Lounge (2001), and The Makeover (2006) – and her 2014 EP Paradise. For the past five years, the ever multi-tasking Ms. Watley has focused on both her thriving solo career and the group project “Jody Watley featuring SRL.” Much like Prince had The Revolution, NPG, and Third Eye Girl (among many other projects and aliases) as extensions or branches of his music and creativity, Jody Watley feat. SRL allows Ms. Watley another outlet for her artistic expression. SRL members Rosero McCoy and Nate Allen Smith – gifted singers, dancers, and choreographers in their own right – bring their own cool style and vibe to Ms. Watley’s trademark high-energy, all-love live performances, and the trio’s critically acclaimed concerts draw SRO crowds around the world. With musical influences that include Kaytranada, Anderson Paak, and Little Dragon, they’ve released several chart-topping hit singles in Europe, including the Alex Di Ciò remix of “The Mood.” Their forthcoming album will be a seamless mix of dance grooves, funky beats, deep House, R&B, trap, rock, and ambient ballads accented with guitar flourishes. Also in the works is Jody Watley: The Jazzy Sessions, a longtime dream project finally come to fruition. Fans were given a taste of what to expect from that forthcoming EP on the bossa nova tinged cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,” which shot to the top of the jazz charts within weeks of its release. A lilting, gorgeously melancholy take on the classic tune, the track simmers with tension between the longing of the lyrics and the lush, languid music and arrangement. Though some newer fans were pleasantly surprised that Ms. Watley pulled off a jazz tune, longtime fans saw it as simply the artistic thread being pulled forward from Ms. Watley’s show-stopping cover of Cole Porter’s classic song “After You,” from the landmark AIDS benefit recording project Red Hot & Blue, released in1990. What links “Waiting” to the rest of Ms. Watley’s far-ranging and impossible to pigeonhole catalogue (which has seen her hit the charts in every decade of her career, from 1977’s Uptown Festival album with Shalamar to 2018’s “Waiting in Vain” single) is the sincerity and honesty from which it springs. “Everything I’ve ever done has been to be distinctively Jody Watley,” says the pop icon herself, “from my first solo album through right now. Everything that I will ever do always has to be authentic to me, work that I can always be proud of first and foremost. It’s not so much about, ‘Oh, this is going to be popular,’ or ‘Oh, this is going to be a big hit.’ It’s always been so personal to me, everything that I do. And the fans can feel that. They connect with the honesty.”

A July Weekend Experience

Next Friday July 19 it’s a disco themed  Jody Watley LIVE at New York’s legendary Summerstage concert series – I’ll be taking the stage in Staten Island, a first the location is Corporal Thompson Park. City Parks put on first class events so this will be no different with Deejay Joey Carvello from Mobile Monday’s spinning classic disco vinyl, dance lessons from world renowned Waacking Queen Princess Lockeroo as well. Look for a bit more Shalamar than I normally do with SRL and of course some choice cuts from my own eclectic solo repertoire including the current single “Good Good Reason” nu-disco soul vibes.

On Saturday night the party lands in Bethesda, Maryland at Bethesda Blues and Jazz “Celebrating 30 Years Of Real Love” and beyond. I’m full of gratitude to continue to be blessed to do what I love and share the gift of music and still be fabulous.

The set list will be different because of the theme, expect it to be full of love – funky and sexy .. yes those can go together. See you there! Get tickets now! Tickets Instant Seats

Jody Watley Classic Image of The Week

#TBT Japanese Fashion Magazine Launch Cover.

Breaking barriers as first black woman on Japanese fashion magazine, there were billboards across Japan and I also filmed a television commercial that aired through the country – such an honor. Photography: Philip Dixon. Makeup: Paul Starr. Wardrobe: Martin Sitbon

Jody Watley – Wattage.

Wattage Thoughts Of The Day.

 

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Should you find yourself continuously in the midst of consistent lies, vendettas, grudges, bitterness, jealousy of others.. keep going, that’s what I do anytime people bring something negative to me that others are saying. Those people can’t stop anything and trust me in my case, they’ve been trying for a long time. Remember that whatever they do or if they are able to turn others against you  – whatever it is and whoever ‘they’ may be – it isn’t worth much anyway. Keep on keeping on to anyone who can relate to this type of thing.

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July Greetings – New Video

New video greeting. This is the 4th I’ve done and with each try to inspire to begin the new month as well as to update where I’ll be that month..in this case July – on the 19th it’s Staten Island, NY for the City Parks ‘Summerstage’ at Corporal Thompson Park and then returning to Bethesda, MD at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club ‘Celebrating 30 Years of Real Love’ on the 20th – that’s staying power!  More concerts during the summer and fall and whenever added can always be found: Jody Watley Tour Dates

Hopefully, you will take the advice from the video and release past energies that may weigh you down going into this month..let alone months or years ago!  Today is today and I hope whomever reads this post or watches the video will receive that message.

 

Love to all – Wattage!

 

Jody Watley – Summer Vibes and Updates

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Never let anyone dim the light that shines from within!

When you’re in the mood for Jody Watley music, it’s at your fingertips at all digital  outlets current releases, deep cuts and music through the decades and of course the staples aka classic hits. Spotify, Apple, Tidal.. of course artists still benefit most from purchasing the music.

Upcoming:

Up Next Summer and Fall Tour Dates
July 19 – Summerstage Corporal Thompson Park, New York : Free to Public
July 20 – Bethesda MD “Celebrating 30 Years of Real Love” Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club: Tickets
August 17 – with Jeffrey Osborne Mable House Barnes Amphitheater :Tickets
August 24 – Groove 99.3 Summer Bash, Stramler Park : Tickets
August 31 – Rewind Funk & Soul with Morris Day & The Time and more Sacramento Thunder Valley Amphitheater : Tickets 
September 7 – Blue Note Hawaii “Unplugged” : Tickets
October 13 – With Tony! Toni! Tone! Detroit Soundboard Motor City Casino : Tickets
October 19 – San Antonio Texas TBA
December 13 – with Peabo Bryson, Oleta Adams and Ben Vereen “Colors Of Christmas” McCallum Theatre Palm Desert CA
December 14 – with Peabo Bryson, Oleta Adams and Ben Vereen “Colors Of Christmas” Cerritos Center for Performing Arts, Cerritos CA
More TBA
Get the current single “Good Good Reason” with Brian Power and other recent releases – available at all digital outlets!

 

Make sure to Subscribe to my Youtube Channel to see weekly videos, behind the scenes, vlogs and more: Jody Watley on Youtube  

 

Jody Watley – Classic Image of The Day. Rolling Stone Magazine Fall Fashion Issue.

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1990 Rolling Stone Magazine Fall Fashion Issue (outtake Polaroid) – Versace Jacket paired with personal denim Levi 501’s and white #tees and earrings by Erickson Beamon – photography by William Laxton, styled by Patti O’Brien and Jody Watley, Hair by Sam McKnight, Make up by Brigitte Reiss Anderson.

 

“I think it’s more embraced by the public, fans, media when artists change their style from hair to wardrobe in today’s era. I received a lot of backlash when I went short initially for the first GAP celebrity ad campaign as well as People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful Issue.. nearly booed offstage at Soul Train Awards it’s a lasting memory will never forgetting the gasps, evil looks and chilly reception later met with rumblings of questioning my sexuality because I’d cut my hair short…then came Toni Braxton and Halle Berry making short cuts on black women all the rage and ‘acceptable’ ..for me it was ‘we like her with lots of hair’.. when for me I was making a statement I’m more than my hairstyles –never be afraid to go against the landscape or sacrifice what’s in your heart for popular opinion.” -Jody Watley

Jody Watley Blue Note Napa – Recap.

Two sold out shows – one fabulous evening of music, “An Intimate Evening of Love, Jazz & Soul.” Thanks to all who came out for this special set list primarily deep cuts. On both shows there were spontaneous moments of course and I ended up going off what we’d planned ..’what do you want to hear?’ which led to stripped down versions of a few mainstream hits, deep cuts like ‘Stolen Moments’ from “Affairs of The Heart” “Off the Hook” and several others.

It was a groovy night full of good summer vibes and ambience. SRL’s Nate Allen Smith and John ‘Havic’ Gregory joined me to close the shows out with two of our recent singles “The Passion” and fan favorite “The Mood” before ending on my ambient ‘Saturday Night Experience’ with full drum and bass jazz funk.

As an artist it’s always important to continue to hone my craft, explore my versatility and of course to create joy for the audience and myself. This format also allowed for a bit more storytelling tidbits of my songwriting tidbits and challenges as well as few off the cuff quips of fun shade unlike like my hits and new music driven show that is far more fast paced and not much talking – always a satisfying experience for all in attendance no matter the format. It was really nice to do this though.

Sound-checking “Skin Deep” from Midnight Lounge (my best album, in my opinion!) these lyrics.. loved the impromptu sing-along at the shows for this “beauty will not keep us together – it’s love that will weather the storm..”

 

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More photo’s to come! You can find some already on my social media pages – Instagram and Facebook, a few on Twitter as well.

 

My next Blue Note show will be in Honolulu, Hawaii September 7 – Unplugged. If you’re planning an end of summer getaway – get tickets: Here