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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.”

Wattage Thoughts. Be Happy.

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Don’t get caught up in the opinions of others and how the view you, feel about you –  don’t waste your time. Just live your life and be happy.

Wattage!

Toni Morrison. A Life Well Lived. A Legacy and Inspiration That Will Last Forever.

 

Toni Morrison

One of my favorite authors and inspirations, Nobel Laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner and so many other accolades. Indeed a groundbreaker and beyond – Toni Morrison leaves behind a powerful legacy and influence that will last for generations to come.

Very said to read she’s passed away at 88. Her work challenged you and touched the spirit. I remember the first time I read early work “The Bluest Eye” in my youth losing and finding myself in her words. I’d read it again later as an adult along with many other books ‘Beloved’, ‘Sula’, ‘Song of Solomon’, ‘Paradise’ along with teachings and speeches. Morrison had such intellect and used it for the type of prose that was often challenging and always thought provoking. My love of reading and literature goes back to junior high Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin to name a few comes from that time on my life filled with challenges and uncertainty- it is also where my love for writing and expression began through poetry, short stories, my first novel (unpublished) and later songwriting.

Rest in Heaven and thank you Toni Morrison for being.

My condolences to her family, friends and those who knew and loved her personally and best. I feel like I knew her too.

 

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Art By Jen Troyer. Quote Excerpt from Commencement Address Wellesley College 2004

Monday Wattage and Austin Pride.

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Shine!

This weekend I’ll be at Austin Pride. I was there last year and before I could go on thunderstorms came and the fire marshall shut it down and my performance was cancelled just as I was about to go on to close out the day. I’m hopeful the weather gods will be on my side this time.

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Jody Watley Song Of The Day – The Passion Brian Power Remix Extended Version

https://open.spotify.com/track/2UIm1zWZIqWnwFctzX4MBv?si=wNtWRS-yQjC_bn5g1bXkOQ

Wishing everyone the best of the day.

Jody Watley. Sanctuary In Challenging Times.

My heart feels so heavy this morning, again ..all of the mass tragic shootings that continue to happen. I do believe it’s domestic terrorism fueled by hate with innocent people losing their lives. The current President (can’t even believe he’s in that position to begin with) rants on Twitter making use of the downside of social media, petty and bullying behavior fueling the fires of racist divisive speech into the to weak minds of those ready to take the woes of their lives out on others. The corruption of politicians in general who most seem to do nothing but collect checks term after term and spew empty rhetoric constantly and especially during elections ..a voting system that is failing and constantly at the mercy those who want to make it worse and more difficult/corrupt, a system doesn’t even guarantee any of what’s ill’ing this country and the world at large can be fixed. This isn’t about politics for me, this is about humanity in a country and world in which we should all be able to thrive together, caring for each other as human beings, the environment and so on. No one wants to take accountability, just finger pointing – so round and round we go.

The ultimate powers that be, including whatever shadow figures and government that exists beyond our knowledge, that don’t want it fixed deem it easier to buy a gun / AK-47, 15 whatever model it is than to obtain a Visa, or vote.. and probably many other things where extreme red tape is involved – what is the purpose of body armor, hundreds of rounds of ammo and so on being legal to purchase?  What is the purpose of semi-automatic weapons being legal and accessible? In my heart I don’t think any of them will be happy until all has been destroyed without concern or conscience, or we find ourselves in some sort of civil race war and this country ends up like a vast wasteland in some futuristic movie. Hate begets hate, love will always drive out darkness but it’s up for a hell of a challenge in these times moving forward.

Even as an optimistic person..I just wanted to write here because choosing not to post my frustrations on the state of the world on social media. Some people get on every day just to complain as if that helps anything..more anger and bitterness. Words without action are just words in any capacity in life.

That said, it’s on my mind and in my heart to express this today. This blog is always my forum for those who are willing to go deeper and appreciate the messages beyond pretty pictures and ‘likes’ – so thank you for reading.

I cry when these killings occur, never immune as a human being, a mother of two, a friend, a daughter, an employer who cares about everyone I work with and so on. We can’t all live in a bubble and thinking about these victims each time – mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, relatives, classmates, co-workers..it goes on to an instant chain of heartbreak created by these vile cowards; who I’d add generally get taken into custody alive..never mind the guy selling bootleg cigarettes.

Reminding myself daily, to do what I can in life in what I put into the world and what comes from me to you and those who happen to follow me through my music. Stressing over what we can’t control is futile..and as best we can, take refuge and power in what we can control in living life and not taking anything for granted. What we choose to focus on and how it shapes our mood 24/7. Despite everything, don’t let the world and behavior of others get you down.

It’s befitting to post a song I wrote called ‘Sanctuary’ probably the most important in all of my songs, because it’s a life song inspired by my daughter and son and the importance of home and the spaces we create to just to live in but mentally and emotionally as well, a safe place, a healthy place..   ‘fill these walls with happy times, fill these rooms with peace of mind..sanctuary is my home..”  mindful to cherish each day, our loved ones and friends and what vibe we can create in the safety of our homes, an environment of love – because when we step into the world we just never know and there’s a lot of hate and divisiveness ‘trending’ in this country and the world. I won’t let it get the best of me, stress me out with worry in just living..and I hope you don’t either. It’s the same conversation I have with children who are now young adults living their own lives.

My condolences always go out to the families and victims in these tragedies and any senseless gun violence. The laws will not change sadly no matter what we do, and no matter how many lives are lost. The powers that be – don’t care and controlled by  greed, money and power – evil.

Be safe, spread love.

 

New In The Jody Watley Art Gallery – August 2019

JodyWatley Art By ShawnWest

Jody Watley by Shawn West. Multi-Media. Gallery

Jody Watley and Queen Tuanku Fauziah – Classic Image of The Day

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I continue to have so many memorable experiences, this ranks high. Afternoon tea at the Royal Palace of Malaysia with then Queen Tuanju Fauziah attended by all participants of the Force of Nature Aid Relief Concert in 2004. The motorcade of us all going to the Palace with police escorts was it’s own piece of epicness. In 2004, though we all had cell phones, it’s not like today’s technology and taking the phone out to capture every moment – and not being in the moment. Definitely took it all in!