New interview with Mike Vitti aired yesterday on popular UK station Mi-Soul Radio. You can listen now on the just posted new link. We had a great chat while I was in London for my April concert there at Under The Bridge – we touched upon the new music, a few thoughts on my Shalamar days and went back as far as Soul Train – I shared a fun bit of my history with The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. A must listen:
2017 has begun, each day bringing another chance at whatever your goals are. I did some reflecting on 2016 – the goals I had with my new group SRL. We achieved a lot of the things we set out to do – released two new singles and videos (O.R.I.G.IN.A.L and The Mood which premiered on the #1 Celebrity website Perez Hilton) generating more attention via social media views and a campaign by Tom Estey PR. The naysayers became more silent by years end – we are the real deal and here to stay. Those media outlets that are still resistent I hope come around in 2017. Nate, Rosero and I are together because we choose to be, no one put us together, this is our thing. No one is doing what we are doing. The moral of that story is to just keep moving forward no matter the opinion of others..that’s been my mantra throughout my career. My advice is write your goals down on paper – they feel more real. A dream without a plan is just a wish. Push yourself. Get out of safe zones if you feel stagnant.
Closing out the year was really stressful I’ll admit because it seemed we lost more of our icons, artists than ever (countless fans were tweeting and tagging me on Instagram saying to bubble wrap myself and letting me know how much they loved me). A few nights I was afraid to go to sleep from anxiety. Not to to mention a crazy election season bringing out the worst in a lot of people and racists making it feel we were going back in time. I had conversations with both my son and daughter about being more aware of surroundings and people.
Too much senseless violence also in the news around the world – now more than ever the message is live and enjoy life, never take a day for granted..spread joy to others, take care of yourself, surround yourself with those who love, respect and uplift – do you, don’t waste moments not being authentic or trying to appease people and opinions that don’t matter anyway when all is said and done.
SRL. Jody Watley. Making moves building a foundation one step at a time and enjoying it!
Television appearances bolstered our visibility and support by select radio outlets like SIRIUS XM in particular The Groove and Heart & Soul, Radio Andy’s Sandra Bernhard and independent shows like The Soulbrother Show with Mr. Chris to name a few. We did shows across the USA our target market – to sold out audiences and great reviews; had a nationally broadcast television special in Japan via Fuji Next TV. SRL and I were told face to face by those who came as skeptics – leaving as fans, and being blown away by my solo set..it’s nice to still surprise people while at the same time hear “I had no idea you were so good live..” after 30 years as a solo artist! We closed the year out as special guests of the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin – fabulous to cap off a year where we also met baseball hall of famer Mike Piazza and Apollonia Kotero came out to the Blue Note Hawaii and we stayed up into the wee hours of the morning talking about Prince.
Jody Watley and SRL with The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin.
We learned that Hall of Famer Mike Piazza is a big fan! Pictured with us here in D.C.
Jody Watley. SRL with Apollonia grieving from the loss of Prince came out to Blue Note to show love.
I wrote an open letter directed to my former colleagues Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel and the show Unsung for their perpetuation of lies, slander and character attacks on me which made my website crash when I posted it back in September. The consensus “.. She had time.. – Ms. Jody brought receipts..” and that was for sure from recent emails as well other documents disproving their claims that no matter how much I tried to ignore and not give energy to – things needed to be said from me. In this era lies can become the truth and one can’t always do the ‘who cares what people think’ when people are out to destroy your reputation and make promoters feel uneasy about bookings through tampering and intimidation. It was a shock for me to learn in 2016 via the ongoing trademark challenge by the Griffey stepdaughter that Hewett and Daniel were under agreement to the Griffey family, mandated to work only with her (see Open Letter receipts) and paying a hefty 30% in the process to be in Shalamar performing overseas. They’d rather make people believe I’d always turned them down for any reunions which wasn’t true than have the public know the real truth. I also touched upon the unfortunate times we live where people don’t read half the time, only headlines (as I write this blog – the irony) nor fact check, which allows people to spread lies. 2016 I’d had enough since the 2009 airing of Shalamar Unsung to the Hewett episode where they used my likeness and name to their attempts at creating drama for ratings in an effort to help a fledgling “Unsung” careers while trying to smear my name to guillble viewers and listeners (Tom Joyner Morning Show). Presenting me in a false light with my former colleagues through their own jealousy and bitterness toward me has caused their action in tandem with the step daughter of former label head of the defunct Solar Records.What I’ve learned is that when certain people can’t control you – they will try to control how others might see you. This industry can be shady and treacherous. Open Letter: Here
We finally started a page for my label Avitone : http://www.twitter.com/avitonemusic If you don’t know, I started Avitone in 1995. In each of these recent features, Courageous Woman Magazine as well as Closer Weekly you may learn things you don’t know about me.
Moving on..SRL and I started working on our forthcoming “Bridges” and that’s at the top of our focus for 2017..releasing our debut full length and with that more video’s (including my solo “Sanctuary” concerts and love.
It’s In The Music!
Up Next: Already Announced
The Roxy Theatre Jan. 28 West Hollywood, CA
Billboard Live Tokyo Feb. 6-7
Billboard Live Osaka Feb. 9
B.B. Kings NYC May 27
80’s in the Sand Breathless Resort and Spa Dominican Republic Nov 11-18
With the Queen of Soul #ArethaFranklin at her annual Christmas Party in Detroit -it was an elegant and loving event-a night to remember for real! . In our journey and history (most don’t know about) she reminded me I gave her my high school graduation photo and signed it to her and that she still has it…I gushed about what an honor it was to sing for her and thanked her for believing in me before I was a professional artist myself and that I loved her – she saw something in me early on and I’ll never forget that or the meaning of that -Then- When she looked Nate and Rosero of #SRLShalamar Reloadedafter I introduced them to her she smiled and said “Alright Ms.Jody!” 😊❤️️ We both laughed. She looks beautiful too by the way!
SRL (Shalamar Reloaded) and I with the Queen of Soul before our performance.
Jody Watley with civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Shalamar Reloaded (SRL).
In full effect. Jody Watley and SRL (Shalamar Reloaded).
Jody Watley on Soul Train in 1988 with Don Cornelius.
Don Cornelius represents an incredible and unparalleled legacy in television, music and dance that will live on forever. Don and Soul Train shined a bright and historic light for our culture. A true visionary, icon, legend and pioneer in every sense; his impact on black pride and aspiration in youth like myself was immeasurable during the peak of Soul Train in the 70’s. Don created, built and opened a door of inspiration, hope and opportunity for street dancers and artists to walk through – especially me as my career has always been intertwined with the show because it’s where I got my start. It’s incredible to know he started the show in Chicago with just $400.00 of his own money. What many don’t know is that my father and Don Cornelius knew each other as they were on the AM airwaves in Chicago at the same time when I was a baby; my father doing Gospel and Don Cornelius as a part-time news announcer. I didn’t learn the connection until after I was a dancer on the show. In essence Don Cornelius was already in the fabric of my life before our paths would eventually line-up. Like most black kids in the 70’s Soul Train gave my friends and I something to look forward to on Saturday and to talk about at school on Monday. If you wanted to know what was cool in style, the latest dances or to see new and established artists – you watched Soul Train and lived to see the Soul Train Line. As a dancer on the show, you lived to come down the line. Whether rocking afros or flamboyant fashions; it was with pride as it was framed in a positive light also evidenced in the ads tailored for the show. I thank God for Don. Millions of us lived for Soul Train helping to make it the longest syndicated music television show in history. Soul Train was a vehicle of exposure for countless artists in music when all other doors remained (and to a degree remain) closed. If you made it on Soul Train, you’d arrived. As I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world as an artist – I’ve seen how far and wide the reach was. The last time I saw him was at The GRAMMY Museum in 2010 for the 40th Anniversary of Soul Train. I reminded him again how much I appreciated him and how thankful I was.
Jody Watley on Soul Train, 1976
I owe so much to Don and Soul Train. It was Don who hand-picked me for Shalamar when forming Soul Train Records and he remained supportive throughout my solo career.
Jody Watley at Soul Train Dance Studio, Los Angeles.
Ever the champion of dance, Don Cornelius opened The Soul Train Dance Studio in the late 70’s in Los Angeles on LaCienaga and selected me to be one of the instructors. From that, I had the honor to give private lessons to ‘The Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin, teaching her ‘The Robot’.
Subsequently, she asked me to be in her concert at the prestigious Dorothy Chandler Pavilion while she sang her classic ‘Natural Woman’. Aretha Frankin wanted me to represent the role ‘entertainer’. Each girl represented a different facet of being a woman; executive, mother, and so on. To say it was an honor to be onstage by personal invitation of the ‘Queen of Soul’ is an understatement. It was another moment I’ll never forget thanks to Don Cornelius and Soul Train.
Jody Watley with Jeffrey Daniel, Soul Train Scramble Board
Original Shalamar, Soul Train Records Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley, Gary Mumford, 1977
My heart is truly broken to learn of Don’s death and passing. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and those like me who loved and appreciated him for all that he represented and achieved as the first African-American to create, produce, host and OWN his own show. To be honest, as much as I admire Oprah Winfrey, I was disappointed that she never had Don on as a guest for her show, especially when the documentary for VH-1 “The Hippest Trip In America” aired. It would have been great and he deserved it. Don Cornelius let us know that black is beautiful and sent us off wishing love, peace and soul.
In his departing, I’m wishing him the same.
Don Cornelius and Jody Watley. Soul Train Christmas Party 1978
Don Cornelius with Jody Watley “VH-1 Hippest Trip In America” Documentary Taping 2010
Don Cornelius, Jody Watley at The GRAMMY Museum Soul Train 40th Anniversary Celebration, October 2010
Cheo Hodari Coker, Smokey Robinson, Jody Watley, Cuba Gooding Sr. Don Cornelius, Questlove of The Roots at Paley Television Center For Media, in 2009.
Talking about Don Cornelius with Don Lemon on CNN: