Jody Watley 1988 in May’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar photographed by Francesco Scavullo wearing Angel Estrada, hair by Jeff Woodley, make up by John Evans.
I’ve told the story before, but here it is again in a quick snapshot. When my publicist notified that Harper’s Bazaar wanted to feature me in the magazine with photo session in New York by the legendary fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo who has lensed some iconic images over the decades. They had no idea who he was or the additional significance.
this wasn’t a common occurrence in the music business at that time. My label did not agree to fly me to New York for this major opportunity asking me what did being in a fashion magazine have to do with selling records – forget the major exposure, the broadening of the audience, establishing me beyond music as a budding fashion icon and brand or however one wishes to look at things. I didn’t want to miss out and so I paid for my own flights and hotel to do this. Always invest in yourself if you have the means to do so.
Eventually of course major labels embraced the concept and additional prestigious PR and it became commonplace -and of course went even further with black superstar women in music like Rihanna, Beyonce, and more (Ciara, Alicia Keys) gracing the cover of high fashion magazines.
My solo debut was so monumental in a variety of ways beyond the Grammy nominations, winning Best New Artist, the hit singles and more. Always believe in yourself.
One of the positive things that occurs on social media is when someone points to a release that isn’t the obvious. Such was the case today with a reminder and celebration from someone on Instagram that today my soulful and introspective “Intimacy” was released.
Very slept on – but a quality project I remain proud of. When you are an artist and songwriter not wanting to be trapped in the “Pop-star” box and machine – you have to be unafraid to grow and take what others will see as creative risks as personal and artistic growth. Very organic, bohemian .. I was even burning incense onstage, really setting the mood beyond the record. Both “Affairs of The Heart” and “Intimacy” were and are decidedly more R&B though I have never been completely embraced by that audience or part of the industry ..
Each endeavor from my solo debut through recent works always comes with a strong vision and passion of what I want to do and how I feel at the time. Goals change as I change – that’s an artist.
It’s a choice- be authentic, be bold and be happy with your choices or stay stuck in what others want you to do and be. I’ll always be about that authentic true to myself life.
If you missed it – it’s available to open your ears as it’s another that has gotten better with time.
“Working On A Groove” starts it off a very summer feel good song before the some of the stories unfold through the songs. Two R&B hits “Your Love Keeps Working On Me” the spoken word “When A Man Loves A Woman” the psychedelic funk rock “Are You The One” my makeover of “Too Shy To Say” and the house vibes of “Ecstasy” – and several ballads.. I wrote and recorded this as my marriage was unraveling, my heart was broken, it wasn’t what my record label or pop fans wanted — while asking myself so many questions-my art reflected my life at that time.
More mature, less sass and party but all heart and soul.
I’ve had many styles and looks over the years..no doubt my solo debut looks from the late 80’s are what many emulated back then and continue to with variations of it present day. My thing was black girls, Latin girls and other ethnicities could be edgy, funky and different too. Before it was a thing, vintage or thrift store pieces have always played a role in my personal style and pairing high end pieces with those others may consider as bargain bin. Sunglasses have also always been a staple in my wardrobe, not to mention the signature jumbo hoop earrings. In my in progress memoirs, I cover the politics of being a black girl who didn’t fit the box for the many in R&B, radio (why is she dressed like that?) and media and with some fans. It’s an interesting subject to reflect upon and to have pushed past and in my own way, broken through some of those obstacles.
Fast forward to 2019 and moving into the new decade it’s a good idea to continue to repurpose clothes, mend, buy second hand – it’s good for the environment and your wallet. Always donate, consign, mix it up and be you.
Working the skirt and handheld fan was inspired by flamenco dancers as a child and later the delicate use in Japanese culture. My collection is ever-growing from gifts to those I purchase in my travels..as well as custom.
Jody Watley – Ebony Magazine. Trendsetter. Soul Train…I even had a handheld fan brooch for extra detail.
A staple at my live shows. Often imitated over the years.
By always doing my own thing, keeping to myself, and just not being afraid to be different for the most part has always made me feel like a bit of an outcast – I’ve always been comfortable with that for the most part.
I’ve seen the popularity of the hand-held fan grow over the decades, and those who try to emulate or imitate me make use. It’s an art form if used properly.
Sharing this from the fan page jodywatleystyle on Instagram – Jody Watley; 1993 Us Weekly. Photography Jon Ragel. Make-up by Collier Strong. Styling Jeannine Braden and Jody Watley. Hair by Jody Watley.
‘Soul Survivor’ interview feature talking about my ‘Affairs of The Heart’ –when magazines were interested in what you had to say about your music, writers cared enough to do their homework.. and focus was not celebrity gossip or how many social media followers you had.
It was an cool to be a part of the “People Magazine 50 Most Beautiful Summer 1990” issue needless to say (actress Michelle Pfeiffer was on the cover). I believe true beauty radiates from the inside out and honestly having smarts is higher on my list though being in the entertainment industry there is a level of superficial so I get it. In my interviews it’s always been key to get that across, not just being a ‘pretty face.’ The feature makes mention of my godfather music legend Jackie Wilson who will finally be honored with a Star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood September 4, 2019.
In this opportunity it’s noted that I was ok with my crooked bottom teeth..they are still crooked though I could easily have them straightened. Perhaps I will before all is said and done but they don’t bother me and are a part of being distinctly me. Imperfections are a part of who we are, it’s also what I replied recently to someone trolling me on Facebook who mocked me for my bottom teeth ‘you have enough money – why don’t you get your teeth fixed, people are talking about you behind your back..” Sure, we are all works in progress and if definitely fix or work on what needs improvement if it makes you feel better about yourself – go for it but don’t let society or certain standards make you feel less than or inferior in any way. You decide – I decide.
Going with short hair was also a statement in itself and somewhat rebellious in it’s own way..it’s not about my hair but my artistry and quest to always be what and who I want to be at any given time – not who and what other’s want to define or box me into. The short hair was not received well at the time with fans, or my record label. As an artist and a human being most of all, it’s often challenging to hold on and fight to be who you are and want to be while others may only see you one way and try to keep you marginalized to their vision.
This was also around the time I was photographed by legendary Herb Ritts for the GAP groundbreaking ‘celebrity’ ad campaign ‘Individuals Of Style’ – loved this session. Herb Ritts was so kind and easy going. Any intimidation I may have felt going into the session melted away as soon as I met him. We shot in natural light on the rooftop of his Hollywood studio, I wore my own denim jeans and Doc Martens, customizing the white GAP t-shirt to suit me, just a simple snipping off of the sleeves. Peter Savic, another legend in the fashion and celebrity hairstylist..actually he’s a master of hair, an artist not just a stylist worked with Herb Ritts often but it was a first for us. Wanting to do something fresh, modern and bold but not sure what – Peter suggested short and so we agreed on the pixie cut and he knocked it out of the park! An image from this session was also used for my “Precious Love” single…as well it was around this time I was nearly booed off the stage and received heavy backlash after by my only performance on the Soul Train Awards…that’s another post entirely. I do touch upon being black and forward thinking as an artist back then, the politics of the music business .. in my work in progress memoir.
Be bold if you feel like it – be you – live your life!! Wattage!
I believe this is 1980 for RightOn! Magazine, a feature on my style – in this case hair. This is around the time of Shalamar ‘Three For Love’ album. The style came about because of not wanting to braid to the ends because the unbraiding would be more time consuming. It was unique at the time.
Very proud of the resilience I continue to have, the woman and artist I grew to be – still trying to be the best ME I can be no matter what. I’m full of gratitude, healthy and happy fast forwarding decades later living life and going beyond what I ever dreamed initially to create new ones.
Always choose to believe in yourself and keep growing – never get stagnant or lose faith.
When such things were based on achievement and not social media numbers. This was my second feature in Rolling Stone, this time more of a concept fashion and style feature being paired with an unlikely subject. The photo session took place in the Florida Everglades..I was so nervous, needless to say there were alligators in the water popping in and out, but it was all about the shot and being fierce. The crew did consist of a safety team and wranglers if needed. It didn’t take long to get the right take!
“If Jody Watley is looking for a new love, Roland Martin can certainly help her with the bait. She’s Jackie Wilson’s godchild, the ex-Shalamar chanteuse who’s already angling for her second Top 10 single as a solo artist. He’s the Jack Nicklaus of bass fishing, nine time Angler of the Year and sixteen-time winner of the Boss Angler Sports Tournament, and he’s rolling in the dough. He’s also the host of his own TV show, appropriately titled Fishing with Roland Martin.
Rolling Stone Issue 510 October 8, 1987, Fall Fashion “The Sporting Life.” Cover: Bono
Jody Watley Coat & Black Cashmere Dress: Stephen Sprouse Purple Pumps Arlene Laz Marca
Photography: Victoria Pearson ‘Don’t You Want Me’ — funky, trendsetting style. 1987-88 Classic.
Photography: Jon Ragel for Us Magazine – Elegance. 1993 Intimacy era.
I’m me with each project..I’m also a different me with new goals, emotions and inspirations as life dictates my soul and spirit to reflect through my art and music – never wanting to be a pop star.. just an artist and a woman at peace within herself for the choices I make at any given time…always evolving.