Jody Watley. 2020. Photography by Tyler Miles.


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, Jody Watley forged the template that is now everybody’s playbook.

watley+grammyWinner of the Best New Artist Grammy in 1987, Watley’s entire career has been about looking forward, drawing inspiration from personal heroes and iconoclasts who were and are 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  like the Grammy nominated “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 waacking, 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,” featuring Eric B & Rakim the first rap/ sung collaboration with Pop/R&B singer and rapper to crossover Top 10 Hot 100 , R&B, Rap/Hip Hop and Dance along with the sultry ballad “Everything.” They were all huge hits.

Like many artists who top the charts, Jody 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 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 (Masters At Work), Mark de Clive Lowe, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Ron Trent,Dam-Funk, French Horn Rebellion, Moto Blanco, and Alex Di Ciò as well as folk artist Peter Harper. 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) Japanese Exclusive, Midnight Lounge (2001), and The Makeover (2006) released exclusively to retailer Virgin Megastore and became their Number 1 Best Seller over all big label commercial releases. 2014 produced the EP ‘Paradise’ saying that she felt full length albums in an era of short attention spans weren’t pivotal in this climate of cherry picking songs and streaming.

2018 saw the release the makeover of of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain,”  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. The ever multi-tasking Jody Watley created a side creative endeavor with 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, Watley used it as another outlet for her artistic expression; they two released UK Soul chart-topping singles including the Alex Di Ciò remixes of “The Mood” and “The Passion” in 2018 and often featured in her live concert experiences as singer/dancers accompanying her on a few Shalamar favorites in her “A Music Journey” concert series.

2020 brought the sophisticated soul of ‘Winter Nights’ EP. The pandemic caused delay in the release of the planned follow-ups “Spring” “Summer” “Fall” though Watley did deliver the timely remix single “The Healing” with lyric video touching up the civil unrest and Black Lives Matter.

What links “Waiting” to the rest of  Watley’s far-ranging and impossible to pigeonhole catalogue (which has seen her hit the charts in every decade of her career), beginning as an original member of the R&B trio Shalamar as a  teenager from 1977-1983, and the ongoing decades of solo artisty is the sincerity and honesty from which it springs and is quintessentially Jody Watley.

“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.”  – Ernest Hardy

To date as a solo Jody Watley has 6 Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles, 13 Number 1 Dance Singles, 2 R&B Number 1’s, 15 Top 40 Singles. Gold and platinum albums, 2007 Billboard Dance Lifetime Achievement,  2017 recipient of the Black Music Honors Crossover Music Icon Award and nominations from the American Music Awards, MTV Awards, NAACP Awards and Soul Train Awards.

As an original member of Shalamar add 1 Top 10 Single, 3 Top 10 R&B singles Billboard singles.


Additional Info:

Watley’s award and nominee tally include, Grammy’s, American Music Awards, MTV Awards (“Real Love” directed by David Fincher remains one of MTV’s Most Nominated of All Time), NAACP Image Award Nominee, Billboard Life Achievement In Dance Music, Ranked as One of Billboards’ Greatest Dance Artists Of All Time in 2016, Black Music Honors Cross Over Music Icon 2017, 2018 Added to Billboard Magazine List of Top 60 Hot 100 Female Artists of All Time and Top 25 Dance Artists of All Time.

The Historic The Black Issue, VOGUE Italia 2008

People’s Magazine 50 Most Beautiful

Harper’s Bazaar Magazine America’s 10 Most Beautiful

GAP, first celebrity ad campaign

LA Eyeworks, first celebrity ad campaign

Dance to Fitness, First Number 1 Fitness Video by a woman of color and recording artist

First woman of color to play Rizzo on Broadway in the hit musical GREASE!

SPUR Japan, first woman of color to appear on the cover of a Japanese fashion magazine for the lauch of SPUR.

Fashion layouts include: Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, Saks Fifth Avenue Fall Catalog.

Jody Watley was a part of the historic Band Aid charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas”



Wikipedia Source Reference Bio.


Jody Watley Triumphant at Radio City Music Hall

Jody Watley is a GRAMMY Award Winning Pop/R&B innovative music maker, songwriter, producer and style-forging pioneer in music, video, dance and fashion as recognized in VOGUE, VOGUE Italia, Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Essence and Vanity Fair in addition to being named  one of People Magazine’s Most Beautiful People. Watley has the distinction of being included in the first celebrity driven ad campaigns “Individuals of Style” for GAP and the famed “A Face Is Like a Work of Art” for LA Eyeworks. Watley established the trend of high fashion, mixed with street chic, and individuality raising the bar for the next generation of young black Pop/R&B artists decades before the industry would embrace cross marketing and branding in the mainstream.

The Chicago native is one of the first already established artists to embrace the shifting paradigms in the music business and digital platforms embracing the entrepreneurial side releasing music independently and social networking since the mid 90’s. Jody Watley continues to represent longevity, artistic growth and class.

Jody Watley ranks as one of MTV’s most nominated artists for her David Fincher directed video “Real Love” with 7 nominations. She was the first woman of color to appear on the cover of a high fashion magazine in Japan ‘SPUR’ in addition to being the first black artist or woman in the fitness arena to have a #1 million-selling video titled “Dance To Fitness.”

With an amazing 32 Top Ten Singles and 13 #1 Singles in the Pop, Dance and R&B music genres over the past three decades, 6 Hot 100 Top Ten Singles, 15 Top 40 R&B Singles from 9 albums as a solo artist – not including her Shalamar catalog (A Night To Remember, The Second Time Around, Take That To The Bank), Watley’s multi-format hit singles include such classics as “Looking For A New Love,” with it’s popular sardonic catch-phrase “Hasta La Vista Ba-by” later used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in blockbuster movie Terminator;  “Don’t You Want Me” and her groundbreaking collaboration with Eric B and Rakim “Friends”, Watley is widely regarded as one of Pop/R&B’s pioneering icons.

One of the defining artists of the 80’s, Watley’s “Friends” was the first multi-format crossover smash crrover hit to introduce and pair the custom and specialized 16 bar verse with a rapper and singer in Pop music in 1989. The formula became such a popular mainstay in the commercial mainstream The GRAMMY’s added the “Rap/Sung” Category in 2002.



Known for combining beauty and style as integral aspects of her career as a recording artist and dynamic live performer, Jody’s list of accomplishments and achievements is indeed impressive: an American participant in ‘Band Aid’ the historic Sir Bob Geldof British charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, invited by special invitation to perform for a sitting President and First Lady at The White House; recipient of Billboard Magazine’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ in 2009, nominations for NAACP Image Awards, American Music Awards and The Soul Train Awards. She’s been featured in VOGUE, ITALIAN VOGUE (including the Historic “The Black Issue in 2008), Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Essence and named one of America’s Most Beautiful People by People Magazine. Songwriting honors from BMI are also amongst her achievements for many of her hit singles. Jody Watley also appeared on Broadway in the hit musical GREASE! as the pivotal character Rizzo.

Virgin Megastore Union Square Celebrates the Release of Jody Watleyís New CD ìThe Makeoverî With A Live Performance and Q&A Session2006’s “The Makeover,” Watley’s last full length was released as an exclusive with former retailer The Virgin Megastore in a forward thinking strategic partnership; debuting as their top seller in-store where it remained for 5 weeks at #1. “The Makeover”debuted at #3 in The Top Electronic Albums at iTunes; producing 3 Top 5 Billboard Hot Dance Singles. Her cover of the CHIC classic “I Want Your Love” reached #1 in the U.S.  In the U.K. the single also achieved #1 chart status on Music Week’s Commercial Pop Chart. (Click Avitone link on the page to read more). In 2001, she released the critically acclaimed “Midnight Lounge” heralded by the UK’s Blues and Soul as ‘the best album of her career,’ an ambient electronic opus continuing her less commercial leanings into the new millennium with her distinctly bold creative progression as an artist, songwriter and producer.

Jody Watley Music (BMI) contains a diverse range of titles in her publishing catalog  with  licensing opportunities for platforms including commercial advertising, video games, film and television.

As an entertainer Watley continues to perform selectively around the world with her dynamic live show; a unique blend of modern electronica, pop, dance and soul hits and rare grooves all in distinct Watley sound and style.

In October 2012, Jody Watley was one of the stars of “Loving The Silent Tears,” an international musical event with a cast of 16 esteemed artists from around the world directed by Tony nominee Vincent Paterson (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cirque du Soleil) with choreography by Emmy winner Bonnie Story held at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The music was composed by Academy Award winners Al Kasha and Nan Schwartz to the poetry of humanitarian Supreme Master Ching Hai with the theme of finding one’s own peace.

Photo: 2013 (c) Werner Tian Fischer

Jody Watley, Chengdu Sports Centre, GRAMMY All-Stars Concert. Photo: 2013 (c) Werner Tian Fischer

June 2013, Watley’s broad range took her to China as a part of the “Night of Fortune GRAMMY All-Stars Concert” performing in front of 40,000 fans at Chengdu Stadium. Her eclectic musical palette also lent itself to collaborations with new Electro-Pop Band “French Horn Rebellion” for the winter 2012 single “Cold Enough” and the infectious and much buzzed about indie summer single “Dancing Out”, influenced by the pop sounds of the 80’s with a contemporary electro-pop twist. The video for the single premiered on

July of 2013, Watley unveiled the preview of her new single “Nightlife” the shimmering electro disco stomper written and produced by Jody Watley along with Julien and Raphael Aletti (Aletti Brothers) of Count De Money for Peace Bisquit with co-production by Peace Bisquit’s Bill Coleman. “Nightlife” features backing vocals by original Shalamar male lead Gerald Brown for the full classic nod to her past as an original member of the group.

Watley made high profile summer 2013 appearances at ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans’ Mercedes Benz Superdome Superlounge, a GRAMMY All-Stars Concert in Chengdu, China at Chengdu Stadium and a standing room only concert at Washington D.C.’s historic Howard Theatre; her first concert in the city in 25 years.

November 2013 – Jody Watley’s “Nightlife” featuring another Shalamar original Gerald Brown takes her into the Top Ten in the UK peaking at #5 Urban and #6 Commercial Pop in the UK’s venerable industry publication Music Week and continued to rise on the Hot Dance Club Play on Billboard extending Watley’s singles chart streak.

Currently, the proud mother of two young adults is working on a variety of creative projects encompassing new music and literary (penning her first novel, and a memoir).

Jody Watley served two years as an elected Governor on the Los Angeles Chapter Recording Academy Board from 2009-2011.  The Musicians Institute  in Hollywood elected Watley to their board of Governors for a two year term in November 2012.

I entered myself into Miss Black Teenage Illinois while a student briefly at Kenwood Academy; ran for school President, and Queen of Southeast Junior High in Kansas City, Missouri ..” Watley states. “I was the child who was always imaginative, full of ideas – not just a dreamer, but a girl always trying to do and be something. Living in so many places helped me adapt to change, but also made me more of an introvert in many ways..”

Soul Train and Beginning Influence.

As a teenaged dancer on the iconic show Soul Train, Ebony Magazine’s “The New Generation” Issue from August 1978 the article noted Watley as a trend-setter to young girls who watched the show in an article spotlighting “The Outrageous Waack Dancers” of which she was a part of. The article noted the freestyle dance that was gaining popularity. People tuned in to Soul Train to see what to wear, to learn the latest dance moves, see the funky clothes and to hear the best in soul music.

“The Outrageous Waack Dancers” Left to Right: Kirk Washington, Tyrone Procter, Jody Watley, Jeffrey Daniel, Cleveland Moses Jr., Ebony Magazine, 1978
Don Cornelius, Jody Watley, Smokey Robinson and Moderator at GRAMMY Museum.

“The Hippest Trip In America: Celebrating 40 Years of Soul Train” on VH-1 featured Jody proudly speaking on her pivotal Soul Train days and being one of the most popular dancers to come from the show which opened the door of future opportunities including being handpicked by Don Cornelius to be a part of the group Shalamar which began as a part of Soul Train Records. She appeared with founder and host Don Cornelius along with music legend Smokey Robinson at The Grammy Museum in addition to The Paley Center For Media discussing the impact of the show and the Emmy nominated documentary. Jody Watley was among the performers including Patti LaBelle, Jeffrey Osbourne, The O’Jays and more on the launch of the inaugural Soul Train Cruise.

Shalamar (1977-1983).


Jody Watley makes her mark as original female lead with Gary Mumford and Jeffrey Daniel in 1977


Shalamar 1977, Originals Soul Train Records “Uptown Festival”

Shalamar days with Gerald Brown receiving Disco Award for Take That To The Bank in Australia, 1978

Shalamar days with Gerald Brown receiving Disco Award for Take That To The Bank in Australia, 1978

Shalamar with Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley and Gerald Brown circa 1978

Shalamar with Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley and Gerald Brown circa 1978



As an original member of Shalamar along with her fellow Soul Train alumni Jeffrey Daniel were a part of hits ‘Take That To The Bank’, ‘A Night To Remember’, ‘The Second Time Around’ and ‘ ‘(This Is) For The Lover In You.’  Watley’s distinct tones, design, dance and style would contribute to Shalamar through various line-ups which included  male lead vocalists Gary Mumford (1977), Gerald Brown (78-79) and Howard Hewett during her tenure. Watley co-penned the songs “Full of Fire”, “Help Me”, “Work it Out”, and “Talk To Me” for the group. After 6 years, Watley quit Shalamar abruptly in 1983 while on promotional tour in England due to lack of payments of advances, royalties, disagreements with Solar Records founder Dick Griffey. The departure was also a build-up of ego clashes within the group which were documented in the British press at the time and in 2009’s TV-One documentary Unsung: Shalamar. Watley reunited with the group in 1998 for the Babyface cover recording and video directed by Hype Williams for their classic “This Is For The Lover In You.” The group also made an appearance for British television’s Top of The Pops for the single.


Photo of Jody Watley Right on Magazine Shalamar Jody Watley  Poster, 1980



A participant in Sir Bob Geldof’s history making charity single “Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas” alongside Sting, U2, George Michael, Boy George, Phil Collins and more while living in London would be Jody Watley’s first post Shalamar endeavor.

Jody Watley. In Paris, France “Still A Thrill” Video. Solo Debut

Jody Watley officially launched her  solo career in 1986 upon returning to America with a plan and vision for the next phase of her life and career, eager to make a distinct mark free of label and group constraints. Signed by renowned music executive Jheryl Busby to MCA Records, Watley’s breakout debut would garner her the prestigious GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist and featured production from Minneapolis’ former Prince bassist Andre Cymone whom Watley shared co-writing on the bulk of the album and handpicked by Watley. David Z. was brought on by the label to oversee and contribute to the production of Andre Cymone, who was not seen by the label as having a hit-making track record. Legendary producer of CHIC and Power Station Bernard Edwards, a friend of Watley’s since her Shalamar days committed to producing a track with Watley while living in London. The Edwards – Watley collaboration was encouraged by Duran Duran’s John Taylor while recording the Power Station album. MCA added to Watley’s picks by adding Patrick Leonard, who was having success with Madonna at the time.  The debut album also featured a duet with music superstar George Michael. (See Discography for full chart info) whom Watley had met during the recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” During this time she had the opportunity of a lifetime performing with one of her childhood idols, Stevie Wonder on his MTV Special: Skeletons, also featured were Salt N Pepa and renowned musician Stevie Ray-Vaughn. Watley’s fashion forward looks and style caught the eye of major fashion publications who were eager to feature her in lay-outs; uncommon at the time for music artists beyond music superstar Madonna.

Known for combining beauty and style as integral aspects of her career as a recording artist and dynamic live performer, Jody’s list of accomplishments and achievements is indeed impressive: she’s received Billboard Magazine’s ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’, nominations for the MTV VMA’s (where ‘Real Love’ remains one of the most nominated videos with 7), NAACP Image Awards, American Music Awards and Soul Train Awards. She’s been featured in VOGUE, ITALIAN VOGUE (including the Historic “The Black Issue), Harper’s Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Essence and has been named one of America’s Most Beautiful People by People Magazine and has received songwriting honors from BMI. Watley’s “Sweet Sixteen” originally featured on her full length ‘Flower’ was covered by mega girls group Destiny’s Child on their “Writings On The Wall’. Watley’s publishing catalog via Jody Watley Music contains an diverse range of titles.

Jody Watley, 2008 VOGUE Italia “The Black Issue”
Jody Watley by Herb Ritts for GAP.

Jody Watley also helped usher in a new era in the merge of music, fashion and celebrity appearing in the first celebrity ad campaign for GAP.

Jody Watley. “SPUR” Japan, Premiere Issue

Jody Watley was the first black woman to appear on the cover of a Japanese high fashion magazine cover.  Dubbed “The Face” her appearance on the launch of  “SPUR” in Japan was accompanied by television commercials and billboards in major cities in the country.

Jody Watley, for SPUR by Philip Dixon

Another first for the artist was releasing a million selling video “Dance to Fitness“, which had not been achieved by a black woman or musician.

Playing the role of Rizzo on in the hit musical GREASE took Watley to Broadway in 1995.

Performing by special invitation at The White House during the first Bush administration and receiving another invitation by former President Jimmy Carter to be a part of Habitat For Humanity and meeting former First Lady and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are amongst treasured experiences in her journey.

Jody Watley with Former President George H. Bush and Former First Lady Barbara along with former manager Mark Shimmel
Jody Watley with Former President Jimmy Carter and Former First Lady Rosalynn
Jody Watley with Former First Lady, Senator and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Jody Watley with Queen of Malaysia

Force of Nature’s Tsunami Relief in Malaysia welcomed Watley and a host of other international artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Boys II Men, The Backstreet Boys, American Idol’s Paula Abdul and jazz musician Diana Krall and more. The participants subsequently had the honor to meet the King and Queen of the country.

Red Hot + Blue.

Part of one of the first global HIV/AIDS awareness projects “Red, Hot & Blue” for which she performed the Cole Porter jazz classic “After You Who” the project included a diverse global cast of musicians including Annie Lennox, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, David Byrne and U2; Watley continues to work with charities promoting tolerance, as well as prevention and care for those living with HIV and AIDS in addition to involvement mentoring young girls and working to inspire underprivileged youth.

Recently completing her two-year term in 2011 as a Governor on The Los Angeles Chapter of the Recording Academy included Watley’s participation in various events for the Academy including The GRAMMYU Program.

Currently completing her 10th album, inspired by her musical journey; influences will include disco/funk from the era of which she began her music career in the late 70’s and her love of groups like CHIC; while blending with her recent acclaimed forays into ambient electronica.

Beyond her stellar career  Jody Watley is the mother of two young adults and has always kept great parenting in the life of her daughter and son a major priority resulting in more time at home than globe-trotting for some years. Jody Watley is also busy penning her first novel in a series, stating enthusiastically; “Writing is a longtime passion dating back to my youth when I wrote poetry, short stories and full novels that I’d rent out to friends to earn lunch money. I’m very excited about this novel and other literary works swirling in my head. They’d all make great films or stage plays as well! A longtime passion for fashion, style, beauty and health has also led to my ‘Style’ blog.”

As an entertainer Watley continues to perform selectively around the world with her dynamic and live show; a unique blend of modern electronica, pop, dance and soul – hits and rare grooves spanning 30 years in the mix in true Watley style.

Jody Watley (c) 2013 Chengdu, China Jody Watley (c) 2013 Chengdu, China

Recent performances have included: Chengdu Stadium Sports Centre “GRAMMY All-Stars”,  Billboard Live in Japan, The Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Smooth Jazz Cruise, Dave Koz and Friends, Soulfood Music Festival, BB King’s New York, The Birchmere DC/VA, and more. Jody Watley has also performed at private events for clients ranging from Revlon, Diesel, Cole Haan, Swatch and Kraft amongst others.

Bio Source References:


Don Cornelius on Jody Watley, Soul Train and Shalamar, LA Times “She Took The Soul Train To Stardom”, by Stu Black, Dec. 13, 1987:

At 17 she was picked by show creator Don Cornelius, to be one-third of a singing group he was forming for his new record label.

“Jody became more than just a regular,” says Cornelius, executive producer and host of “Soul Train” since it’s inception 17 years ago. “She and her partner, Jeffrey Daniel, set the standard for the  ‘Soul Train’ ’70s and ’80s ‘Soul Train’ dancer. They are creative, their dancing abilities were undoubted and they always seemed to know what to wear.”
In 1976 Cornelius and his then-partner Dick Griffey formed Soul Train Records. “I bought a master, a finished record a medley of Motown hits, which he called ‘Uptown Festival.’ The group’s lead singer Gary Mumford, was excellent. I decided to replace the background people, however with two Soul Train dancers who would work behind Gary. I said, “Let’s use them.” My partner said, Jody Watley can’t sing.” I said, “It doesn’t matter, only the look matters. Besides she had told me that her mother had been a gospel singer. I had a cockamamie idea there must be some kind of singing in her genes..”


As a teenager, Jody Watley became one of the most popular dancers in the history of the internationally notable dance show Soul Train. Her trendsetting style and influence was noted early on: Ebony Magazine Article: The New Generation “The Outrageous Waack Dancers” Pages 64-67, August 1978, Johnson Publications Many will recall how Jody Watley influenced girls all over the U.S. though her role as dancer on the show. “Girls would copy her hairstyles..” Another of her innovations was the use of fans in her dance routines.


American Songwriter, 1989


Life Section, (February 16, 1996) Best Bets Jody Watley Greatest Hits – “..who set standards for fashion and music in the late 80’s.”  USA Today


Watley’s collaboration ‘Friends’ with Eric B and Rakim was the first to popularize the 16 bar rap solo coupled with Pop/R&B. This formula became a staple in contemporary music: Icons of Hip-Hop Culture: An Enclyclopedia of the Movement, Music, Culture, Vol. 1 2007 Greenwood Press by Mickey Hess ISBN-10: 0313339031

” With a respectful Kangol tip to Chaka Khan and Melle Mel and their Grammy winner ‘I Feel For You’ the successful team up of Eric B and Rakim would make permanent the now formulaic Pop/R&B singer X featuring a rapper X a prerequisite for a Billboard chart topper”. To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle On The Hip-Hop Aesthetic by William Jelani Cobb, 2007 NYU Press Page 142 ISBN 0814716709, 9780814716700

“Chaka Khan’s 1984 single ‘I Feel For You’ famously included a rap intro from Melle Mel and Jody Watley enlisted the rhyme skills of none other than Rakim for an interlude on 1989’s “Friends”. In short order , the rap bridge became a standard part of the R&B song structure. “The Billboard Book of Number Two Singles Christopher Feldman, Jody Watley ‘Larger Than Life/Real Love” Publisher Watson-Guphill , ISBN 0823076954, 9780823076952000 The track ‘Friends’ was one of the first collaborations with a Pop/R&B singer and a hard-core rapper.


Jody Watley: Pop’s Fashionista Godmother: Miles Marshall

“The Icon Muses on her Past, Her Comeback Plans and Why Rihanna Owes Her a Debt of Gratitude”, April 16, 2012

Harpers Bazaar May 1989, Photographed by Francesco Scavullo Pages 126-127 Jody Watley is making a substantial dent in the annals of hot pop history..her smashing good looks and style have not hurt her.. GAP Ad Campaign 1989 Individuals Photographed by Herb Ritts Subsequently released as a part of the GAP: Individuals “Portraits of The GAP Collection” Book Chronicling the ads used over the years. Publisher: Melcher Media 2006 Harpers Bazaar September 1990, “Americas Ten Most Beautiful Women” Issue Photographed by: Matthew Rolston Page 180-183 “The Hot Beauty” Watley is a student of style. She creates her own video concepts and styling .

Jody Watley combines seemingly contradictory elements with ease – the soulful with the mundane, the outrageous with the classic. ” – Anna McDowell People Magazine: America’s 50 Most Beautiful People May 09, 1990,,20063273,00.html Rolling Stone Fall Fashion: Italian Collection Pages 9-13 Photographed by William Laxton Harpers Bazaar- November 1991, Photographed by Andrea Blanch Pages 142-145 “Irreverent, Irrestible Dance Diva Jody Watley has always brought bravura style and energy to the Pop-Soul party…

Watley’s reputation has rested on a rebellious fashion sense and a taste for uptempo.. “Affairs of The Heart” marks a shift in emphasis..” – Alan Light

SAKS FIFTH AVENUE Fall Catalogue 1996 Photographed by Victor Skrebneski Pages 81-96

Vanity Fair: October 1991 Spotlight: ‘Soul Survivor’ Written By Lynn Hirschberg Pages 196 – 197 Photo: Michel Comte “Her knack for reinvention has always complimented her music” – Lynn Hirshberg Allure Magazine, “Upkeep” Jody Watley, George Wayne, August 1995 People Magazine “Best Bodies” Issue 1995 “Jody Watley” Photographed by Dana Finemen Page 111 The Black Issue: VOGUE Italia, Jody Watley “Outstanding Ladies” Photo: Michel Comte ,

July 2008 LA Times Magazine, “She Took The Soul Train To Stardom” Dec. 13, 1987 Stu Black Pages 26 – 35 “Jody came in with so much intact” – Jheryl Busby Rolling Stone, “Jody Watley’s New Love” June 18, 1987, Anthony DeCurtis Page 23 USA Today,


Dance To Fitness Overview 1990 Grammy Award winning songstress serenades the at home exerciser with ‘Dance To Fitness’. Consisting of light aerobics Watley’s was one of the first to feature an African-American female artist.


“Jody Watley Makes A Stylish About Face”, January 26, 1990, Jefferson Graham Page 8D Eager to broaden her musical range and change her image. “It’s important to be distinct not just musically” she says but visually distinct as well….I want people to know that I wrote 11 of the 12 songs on the album …not the pawn of someone else, or a marketing man’s idea..”

US Magazine ” Jody Watley -Soul Survivor” March 1992 -Arion Berger’ Pages 53-56 “I call her a quiet tiger.” says Louil Silas Jr. an executive at MCA Records. “She’s had a definite opinion of herself visually and musically from day one.” Watley decided to approach ‘Affairs of the Heart’ much the same way she did with her workout tape ‘Dance To Fitness’. She thought of the project as more of a breakthrough than a marketing move. “There wasn’t one black person in a fitness video” she recalls “and I thought it would be great if I opened that door”.

Essence Magazine, People: Jody Watley, by Scott-Poulson Bryant Page 62 March 1994 More so than her previous three solo albums it reveals maturity of an artist with more on her mind than the latest dance groove.

USA Today, Jody Watley’s High Voltage Rebound July 17, 1995 by James Jones IV She doesn’t apologize for her last two albums, Affairs of the Heart’ and ‘Intimacy’, where she recorded softer, supper-club oriented fare and ballads. “I call those my adolescent albums,” she explains. “As a singer and a songwriter, I have to be able to explore different influences and styles. Everybody expects me to do the same thing all the time. To me that’s just wrong. I don’t like to be tied down to formulas.”

Billboard Magazine, “Watley Takes Control of Her Own Destiny With New Album on Avitone June 24, 1995 , The Rhythm and the Blues, by J.R. Reynolds Discussing Declining Sales: Watley admits that her new indie status presents challenges she didn’t face while signed to MCA. Still, the artist remains confident. “I’m an artist who likes to keep changing and developing..” Watley says she’s more interested in broadening her creative boundaries and issuing lasting messages of substance than in having record-breaking sales.She says “My earlier albums were more mainstream and dance oriented. The last two moved into deep relationship themes lyrically – which has become very important to me”.

Billboard Magazine: “Watley Relaxes in The Midnight Lounge” by Michael Paoletta January 22, 2003 Watley predated the neo-soul movement with the lesser heard ahead of their time “Affairs of The Heart” and “Intimacy”, and the import only “Flower”. “An artist should always explore new frontiers.” Watley says. “These frontiers must reflect you as an artist. It’s really quite simple, but when superstardom greets an artist, it’s very easy to get sidetracked. But I’ve never had a desire to compromise myself…Having a strong vision or belief can cost you corporate support. To be an artist is different from being a pop-star”. Three years ago Destiny’s Child recorded “Sweet Sixteen” a song written by Watley and D’Wayne  Wiggins of (Tony! Toni! Tone!) for its multi-platinum album “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

EMBRACING NEW AND SHIFTING MUSIC INDUSTRY PARADIGMS: Hits Daily Double: Megamove: “..Virgin Megastores worked out an arrangement to be the exclusive terrestrial source for Jody Watley’s new CD ‘The Makeover’ and damned if the CD didn’t debut as the chains best-selling new release of the week..” – August 15, 2006,

Alan Jones (Dec. 01, 2008) Club Charts, Datafile, Jody Watley I Want Your Love,  Music Week UK p. 8 “Rhianna wasn’t even born when Watley was having hits with Shalamar but the two fought an epic battle at the Upfront and Commercial Pop Charts this week.”

All Rights Reserved. Jody Watley / Avid Music Inc. 2012