THE IRREPRESSIBLE JODY WATLEY RETURNS WITH A BRAND NEW ALBUM THAT HARKS BACK TO HER FUNK SOUL ROOTS. HERE, THE SINGER REFLECTS ON HER RISE TO THE TOP, WORKING WITH THE WORLD’S GREATEST FASHION PHOTOGRAPHERS AND STAYING TRUE.
Jody Watley at Giorgio’s the exclusive, the exclusive Saturday party at The Standard in Hollywood, where Mick Jagger and Andre Harrell mix and David LaChapelle might be spotted with Daphne Guiness on his lap. Watley is the queen of the venue-she holds court almost every week just past DJ Adam XII’s booth with her friend and Decades cofounder Christos Garkinos. Tonight, the mother of two a self described basketball mom, carpool mom, fabulous mom..” wears all black save for a pair of crystal Jimmy Choo pumps. When she’s in the mood, she’ll fan herself on the dance floor-something she has done since beginning her career as a dancer on Soul Train as a teenager. “I always have my little fan action.” the icon says with a smile. “It’s so glamourous. Eat your heart out Karl Lagerfeld.” Watley shot the video for “Nightlife”, the clubby lead single off her new album “Paradise”, at Giorgio’s.“I want to inspire people, because people get stuck in a rut.” she says of the music. “Oh, I’m not going out, Oh, the good ole’ days..” And it’s so frustrating. It’s like make new memories! Even if you had a great time ten, twenty, thirty years ago, be fabulous now! You’re alive, Hello!”
The daughter of a Chicago minister, Watley first performed onstage as a child with her godfather, the incredible crooner Jackie Wilson. After relocating to Los Angeles she succeeded in her mission to become a Soul Train regular. In 1977, Don Cornelius the show’s creator and host, selected her to become an original member of the disco super trio-Shalamar, which would record world-class dance-floor anthems like “The Second Time Around” and “A Night To Remember.” Watley left the group after six years, loved to London, and recorded “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with Band Aid.
After returning to Los Angeles three years later, she signed with MCA Records and released her 1987 solo album “Jody Watley”, co-writing a handful of tracks. It contains some of her most enduring dance music, including the lead single “Looking For A New Love” (which features the popular pre Terminator 2 kiss-off “Hasta la vista baby!”). “Don’t You Want Me.” and “Some Kind of Lover.” She accepted her 1988 “Best New Artist” Grammy-winning over Breakfast Club, Cutting Crew, Swing Out Sister and Terence Trent D’Arby – in a vintage dress and biker jacket painted with her likeness.
‘When I signed to MCA, I didn’t see anybody like who I wanted to be.” she says. “I wanted to do that badass fashion chick that’s just different. And not everybody likes her. And not everybody liked me. “You don’t smile, you’re a black girl, you’re glamorous and you’ve got this cold as ice stare.” While in London she sought out designers like Azzedine Alaia, Claude Montana, Vivienne Westwood, and Jean Paul-Gaultier. “I bought one of the first cone bra’s, pre-Madonna. It’s on the single sleeve of “Don’t You Want Me”. I also bought the huge one that she ended up wearing, but the understated one was more me”, she says.
With her gorgeous mane, lean frame, stunning brows illegal cheekbones and ballsy attitude Watley was the perfect subject for fashion’s top photographers.”[When I first started] the label didn’t want to fly me to New York for my first layout for Harper’s Bazaar” she laughs. “So I flew myself out to shoot with Scavullo!” Steven Meisel photographed the cover of her 1989 follow-up album Larger Than Life. The video for ‘Real Love’ was directed by David Fincher and featured her ruling the runway in menswear paving the way for future acts like Aaliyah and TLC.
“I never wanted to be like anybody else” says Watley who, in the decades that followed never stopped recording, performing and changing up her style and sound. Now she’s writing a memoir, which she plans to finish this year. “I can only be who I am. Because to me that’s what street is. Street is real.” – Mark Jacobs
I was really looking forward to this piece. Originally, I was to be photographed by Hedi Slimane of Saint Laurent back in January. Due to scheduling conflicts repeatedly and delays, V settled on photographer Mason Poole. I looked at his portfolio and approved the choice though disappointed about the change. In life, you have to roll with the changes, ups and downs. At times, though when situations seem rocky from the start it could be a sign to not do something. After seeing what was done to my face in the summer issue of V, where the article is about the forthcoming “Paradise” – my shock, disappointment and outrage as well as that of my publicist and others on my team sent us all in a tailspin for a few days. Making matters worse was the dismissive response “Sorry you all feel this way, but all of the editors love it.” Really? I guess so when it’s not their face distorted and looking nothing like themselves. The photographer must also be to blame which is too bad because I walked away feeling really good about the session. I figured they might morph my body into the standard Hollywood size 2, never in my wildest imagine with so many photo sessions and fashion layouts under my belt did I envision this – Jody Watley Cyborg Woman – Someone Else’s Face. Needless to say – this is something that I have to love with because it’s published and nothing can be done. In the scheme of life and the absurdity of it all – I have to laugh about it…counting blessings and not woes. That said, shame on V and Mason Poole for doing this to me. I get a bit of photoshop and refinement done by experts who know what they are doing. Bad photoshop and misuse of the technology is the worst. People should really learn their craft, not be allowed to make people look unrecognizable – editors are you listening?! Thank you to writer Mark Jacobs for his interview.
Jody Watley in Summer 2014 V Magazine – Who is that woman?
Jody Watley Personal Candids from the V Magazine session – glad we took some snaps of our own!
Original lead of Shalamar Gerald Brown finally got to experience the fabulousness that is “Giorgio’s” this past Saturday on Easter weekend. If you’re not totally familiar with Gerald and you call yourself a Shalamar fan – get the knowledge, because “Take That To The Bank” is one of the groups signature hits. We were in the group together when I was a teen. Back then was always protective and someone who tried to teach about this business, contracts, etc. Through the years, he’s come out to support and let me know how proud he is of me. A devoted and loving father, Gerald is in town visiting his daughter whose son is having surgery. Of course I told him “You must come to Giorgio’s!” A major portion of the video was filmed there, so it has an additional significance beyond being my favorite place to go dance and enjoy classic disco and funk. We also were able to celebrate the success of “Nightlife” which made it into the Top 5 Urban UK at #5 and Top 10, at #6 Commercial Pop. “Nightlife” also made it to the Top 20 of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Singles to begin 2014. A special thank you to Bryan Rabin, Adam Bravin the Giorgio’s family and my best friend Wallace for making the evening extra special. It’s in the music!
Nightlife-ized. Jody Watley and Gerald Brown – two Shalamar originals. Design: Ray Easmon.
With Christos Garkinos for Eureka Los Angeles launch. Photo Courtesy of Christos Garkinos – I paired my navy “Jody” top with Diesel jeans, Miu Miu pumps and Vivienne Westwood limited edition ‘Squiggle’ bag.
Of course, I also filmed the video for “Nightlife” at my favorite place to get dressed up, hang with friends, dance and remember to have fun and enjoy life at Bryan Rabin and Adam XII Presents: Giorgio’s on The Sunset Strip a couple of months ago. It’s In The Music!
I needed a couple of weeks to decompress, relax, unwind and reflect on my experience being a part of the David Gest Presents Legends of Soul Tour. My hat is off to him for being passionate about soul music and it’s veteran artists by doing a tour like this. It boggles the mind that there are not more of these types of tours with a variety of artists with their great hits.
If you followed my posts you’ll know it started off a bit rocky for me. When I look back over the time I was away, in my head I equate it to being a child having gone to a sleep away camp and surviving it. I experienced missing my loved ones, friends and daily routines. Even in the best hotels – there’s no place like home. Thanks to Paul Williams Jr. we were all turned on to the MagicJack phone app – free international calls, though the time difference was always a challenge. Being honest there was shedding some tears of loneliness of being on the road, feeling outcast initially because of my quiet demeanor which didn’t sit well with some, not having my friends, band and crew, etc. You should know I was raised in a fairly quiet household and I’ve never been accustomed to being around overly amped up people who need to be in someone’s face all the time. Chill. I’m as comfortable being real and in my own skin, as anyone else is in being who they are. We all bring our different experiences and upbringing to every situation. It’s about being flexible and respectful – as I said in a previous post, there’s a time and a place for everything. In my work environment, I have tended to hire people with a certain demeanor for my band and crew. Anyway, this caused feelings of being more vulnerable than usual and totally being out of a comfort zone. The feeling of wanting to go home was strong the first few days. Of course I found the strength I needed and tapped into ‘patience.’ It was awesome to bond with a few people after all. Bryan and Louise approached me one evening backstage and asked me what was wrong in a way that was genuine and caring and not confrontational as I mentioned in a previous post. They were like the little kids on the playground yard that come over to help when something’s gone awry. Compassion and empathy. That was a turning point for me. I’m so grateful to them for being so cool. Ultimately, despite the stress, I had a great time, triumphant in it all, definitely having grown up a bit more – even as a fully grown adult. Imagine that?! We all continue to grow with the inner child that remains alive, facing obstacles, insecurities and dealing with insecurities of others which causes them to act in certain obnoxious ways. Working to overcome obstacles in life no matter what – as much as we don’t like the challenges at times. It feels good when you do and get past something.
I teared up a lot as we drove hundred of miles to and from the venues, often gorgeous historic theaters as I looked out of the windows – forced to think about life and tune out noise at times. I often listened to everything from Stan Getz to Radiohead in my earbuds, as well as my own “Nightlife” remixes. I did a lot of reflecting on being a Mom, the homebody – raising my children my children into young adults; missing them and thinking a bit more about mortality cycles of life. I reflected on my career, what I’ve achieved, what I still want to achieve beyond making records. Generally, I never think about my age unless it’s brought up to me – but I did a lot of thinking about it on this on this trip. I feel ageless most times – well, until I have to reach for my reading glasses! 55, though totally young at heart and in my spirit – half a life lived already and looking ahead to the things I hope to achieve still with all of my past and current accomplishments which include raising to wonderful people of which I’m most proud. Perspective. Looking at the artists doing it in their 70’s..I couldn’t help but wonder if I wanted to be on the road when I hit 70 if I’m so blessed. Anyway, back to my daughter and son -they’ve traveled with me to places around the world and that fact made me smile – and cry! Maybe the tears were also my fluctuating hormones, which is said with a smile in another nudge of age. I’ve never cried so much in small spurts!! When I’d see a Mom with her son or daughter walking and holding hands, or sharing a bite to eat – tears. I thought about the blessings of my career and to be on tour with artists in their 70’s or close to it who survived touring and sharing the gift of music in a time of segregation always knowing the safe houses to rest in their travels, as hotels weren’t option and the fear of lynching always loomed. I visited the International Slavery Museum – twice.
We are blessed even when things don’t go smoothly – it’s the pushing forward. That’s living. Life.
The view from my hotel suite in Liverpool, I took in many sunrises (insomnia) and a few sunsets on off days. Thankful to be in the moment.
Til’ the Break of Dawn…just after sunrise from my suite Liverpool.
With legendary Candi Staton – I loved watching her perform, she shared great stories one night listening to her and Little Anthony on a long drive back from one of the shows was priceless. Candi at the end of the tour said folks were saying I was ‘the elusive one’ – lol.
Later down the line..
A gorgeous meal at San Carlos with my new friends Bryan, Louise and Alle
San Carlos Interior – GREAT restaurant! Lovely ambience and 5 star food.
Vocalist and best dressed of the tour – Bryan Chambers and keyboardist Alle Pearse.
Our VIP post show hang and “Fabulous Buffet” at the hotel -Legends of Soul Tour.
We were the stragglers, it was really late. Someone said something inappropriate but awkwardly funny..at ‘the fabulous buffet’ Alle was standing on the bar to capture..this was one of the last nights in Liverpool after 3 weeks.
Alle taking the pic..photo courtesy of Louise Marshall.
Paul Williams Jr. of The Temptations Revue and backing vocalist on the tour Louise Marshall as we arrive in Hull at the venue – after a long drive in from Liverpool. Louise also did a great job with her duet with Dennis on “Don’t Look Any Further.”
Arriving to Hull – UK – dressing room dilemmas imminent – lol . A gorgeous theater. Grand staircases always remind me of my ‘Still A Thrill’ video in Paris, France.
I forgot where this was or what theatre – but it was very regal. #selfie (c) 2014 Jody Watley
From earlier in the trip:
Day 2 or 3 in Butlins Bognor Regnoir- the first resort city we played as we worked out the kinks of the show….where my ‘elusive’ reputation was born on the tour.
I’m a big sports fan – so I was happy we got to watch the big game – Butlins Skegness.
I lost the Superbowl bet to Paul Willams Jr. We bet one dollar for fun.
Family time. Louise Marshall with a visit from her beautiful daughter backstage in her hometown of York. Meeting Alicia of course made me weepy for my kids when they were little and would often accompany me for shows. Working Moms – balancing family and career.
More fab light fixtures in York at the theatre…obsessed!
Bryan Chambers was so fashionable. He did so much shopping at one point his new additions required their own seat on the van!
Sometimes the situation called for improvisation due to the lack of dressing rooms to accommodate us all! In life sometimes you have to just roll with it and make things work!
The sign kept calling my name..”International Slavery Museum” – I wasn’t going to go at first because I didn’t want to be depressed – so glad I went as did Bryan who came with me the first time. It was empowering in a surprising and odd way. Made me think of my own resilience in life.
Bryan and I were trying to find the slavery museum amongst many..good thing I had on comfy boots!
African Origins. International Slavery Museum Liverpool.
I also learned that the famous street Penny Lane made famous by The Beatles is named after an influential local person in the slave trade..as are many notable streets in Liverpool.
Made me reflect on stereotypes – and certain elements of marginalization of black women that still exist among other things that crossed my mind..and thinking about the media and society..
Snapped at The International Slavery Musuem in Liverpool, UK. They should have museums like this all over the U.S.
Never lose your identity-there was a time African slaves didn’t have a choice.
A slave torture mask for women slaves who got out of line..it was daunting to think about all of this that went on..and that human beings can be so cruel and think up such horrific things to do and make..
International Slavery Museum Liverpool –Muzzles, whips, punishment collars, torture masks, branding irons – no words. Blessings and prayers of strength to those who remain enslaved physically and mentally.
I was captivated by this painting of a little boy who had stowed away on a Palm Oil slave ship, and taken in by a painter in Liverpool
Phyllis Wheatley, a slave, first published African American woman author
On a lighter note..
Vintage organ pipes – Hull.
I saw many beautiful buildings and lighting fixtures.
I met wonderful fans like Justin and Nilesh.
The divine David Arthur – upcoming artist musician. One of our drivers for the tour.
Dennis Edwards and The Tempations Revue Donny Finley and David Arthur chill at our customary “Fabulous Buffet” in Liverpool.
Matt Kern, Donny Finley, Anders Knudsen and David Arthur
Lots of fabulous architecture and grand interiors in the theaters we played.
The UK still shows music video’s on their music channel which was cool to see. I always had flowers in my room – gifts! Thank you to my fans for the love and taking the time to be so thoughtful. I appreciate it all the time.
A universal message – while I was having coffee in Liverpool and feeling blue – it seemed like a sign for me to snap out of it! I did.
On the road again!
Jody Watley with Nilesh.
He made us all sound great each night – shout out to sound and lights!
Some of the gear..#itsinthemusic
We live for it!
Sheila Ferguson original lead of Three Degrees (When Will I See You Again) having a moment before going onstage.
Donald Byrd – “Places and Spaces I’ve Seen” *most played / “Love Has Come Around” / Best of Donald Byrd
DJ Adam XII Giorgio’s Mix 8/10/13 (for putting on my make-up and vocal warm ups)
Phyllis Hyman – You Know How To Love Me Extended Mix
CHIC – Sister Sledge, various songs
Radiohead – Kid A
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Radiohead – Knives Out, House of Cards
Jan Jelinek avec The Exposures
Stan Getz / Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba
Getz / Gilberto
Frank Sinatra . Antonio Carlos Jobim – album
Jody Watley Nightlife Remixed
Jody Watley Paradise rough mixes
Jody Watley Global Sessions mixed by Ray Easmon
Andreya Triana – Lost Where I Belong album
Robert Glasper – Black Radio Recovered The Remixes
Foreign Exchange – Call it Home
King Britt Presents Sister Gertrude Morgan – Take The Lord Along With You
Milton Brunson – If I Be Lifted
Michael Jackson – tons of songs on this playlist including Jackson 5
Dance Classics – too many songs to list
Temptations -Song For You album ( Had the vinyl, bought the album on iTunes while on tour as well as Temptation’s #1’s – elementary, junior high and high school flashbacks spurred on by hearing Dennis Edwards sing … I wanted him to sing “Memories” from the ‘Song For You’ album )
Eddie Kendricks – purchased while on the tour – 20th Century Masters Millennium Collection (Tell Her Love Has Felt The Need -yeessss! I was a teen dancing on Soul Train and danced to ‘He’s A Friend of Mine’ – can you spot me?! http://youtu.be/k7HMMjya88I
Anders Knudsen – Perils (purchased a few days before trip ended – love it).
Louise Clare Marshall – Wait For You (gorgeous and soulful)
I’m sure there’s more..but these stand out the most.
I don’t have to travel to far from home!
Yoshi’s Oakland, May 29, 2014. Get your tickets NOW! Experience the ‘Nightlife’. One show. One night, plus VIP Meet and Greet. Paradise Pre-Release Celebration -Hits and More!!
At last the much anticipated video for the hit single ‘Nightlife’ featuring Gerald Brown formerly of Shalamar set to the Dave Doyle Remix, directed by Steve Willis and edited by Ray Easmon will premiere more than likely on VIBE.com – stay tuned!
Update: 11am EST on Vibe.com Tuesday January 7, 2014
There are two lyric videos for “Nightlife” the first for the single edit, and then the Moto Blanco Remix, currently #14 Pop in The UK and one of the remixes propelling the single upward on the Billboard Hit Dance Club Play Chart.
Make-up artist Billy B and I collaborated on a first of it’s kind music video make-up tutorial, beauty photo session , watch the MakeUpMusitorial preview here
There are also quite a few fan made “Nightlife” videos to be found as well from various parts of the world.
At last we filmed the official video yesterday on the Sunset Strip and inside my favorite club on earth Bryan Rabin and Adam Xll present Giorgio’s – A Modern Discotheque. I’ve been writing about Girogio’s here on sharing on Facebook and Twitter for months now and so it seem fitting and authentic to film there. Much like my classic “Friends” video it’s eclectic, stylish and full of friends and real people having a fabulous time – and of course there was a lot of ‘waacking’ going on and a special touch of classic iconography by the the attendance of actor and Andy Warhol star Joe Dallesando and renowned hair stylist Teddy Antolin, pictured in black and white photo below.
“Nightlife” the official video is directed by Steven Willis with make-up by Billy B. More details soon! Most everyone has graciously donated their time for this out of love.
“Nightlife” with it’s call to “be fabulous” forget your worries – get yourself together, is really my way of encouraging a call to lift yourself up, to have fun. “It’s in the music” because it is about music where so much inspiration and energy lives as a great resource, let it use you – I do! When you’re releasing music independently, so much depends on not simply my efforts but others getting behind and supporting. There’s something to be said about that aspect in today’s commercial commerce driven marketplace – what a concept, focus on ‘the music’ and the hope to inspire others. We can change the world with one smile, one dance at a time – I know it sounds cliche but for me it’s truth.
The single moves up to #14 Pop in the UK in Music Week and #40 Hot Dance Club Play on Billboard. The single peaked at #5 Urban in the UK – which is still quite awesome. It’s not so much about charts and sales but I’m proud of this as an addition to my discography – it’s really always about moving forward and being proud the work; that’s really success. Thats said, I do love proving that a veteran woman artist, writer, producer and style diva can still hang without pandering and with a level of class and my signature authenticity. There’s a core group people working with me, supporting me because they believe ‘in the music’ and not because of financial gain. We are connected by a passion and love for the music, the arts and a time when it was really more focus on ‘music’. The work I continue to do and with the integrity I try to bring appears to inspire others which gives me confidence and hope for all of us out here still trying to do things the right way. It’s all very organic and I’m thankful to those working with me on this and of course you the ones helping to get the word out there through your actions, buying the single and sharing my posts. Thank you.
Fabulous! My daughter and son – who always encourage me as must as I encourage them and tell me I’m the best Mom in the world – which fuels me on my darkest days and always reminds me what’s most important. Thank you Count De Money (Julien and Raphael Aletti- Aletti Brothers Music) Bill Coleman of Peace Bisquit, Gerald Brown, Juanita Stephens PR, Steve Ripley at Soulfood Music, Music House UK, Craig Jones, Niven Govinden, Matt Waterhouse, Moto Blanco, Jodie Harsh, Dave Doyle, Soulpersona, Luminodisco, Claudia Cuesta of Maxi Promotion, Patrick L. Riley of ‘Life of Riley’ and Dave Higdon of Poptastic Confessions, (early blogging supporters of ‘Nightlife’) along with Okayplayer, Soulbounce, Soulculture UK, Centric TV who got behind the single early — Fabulous!! Thank you Rosero McCoy, John ‘Havic’ Gregory, Christos Garkinos of Decades Inc, Billy B., Albert Sanchez, Sandra Green, Billy Johnson at Yahoo Music, Access Hollywood, Uptown Magazine, Isoul Harris, Essence Magazine, Jet, Ebony, Soulbounce, Singersroom, Lee Bailey at Eurweb, Urbanbridgez, Wax Poetics, Wallace Butts, Van Roy, Shawn West, Brian Walmer, Vernon Sze, Steve and Laura Hall at Future Disc Systems, Bryan Rabin and Adam Bravin aka Adam Xll of Giorgio’s, Steven Willis, Harwood Lee, Christina Grady and all DJ’s and outlets supporting this effort…and anyone I forgot to mention my apologies, it’s not intentional. My hardcore fans – I love you!
Vinyl arrived today – yaaay! Details on when they’ll be at my online boutique. I have to number and sign them – limited edition Ba-By! Excited to be filming the final footage for the “Nightlife video tomorrow at my favorite place to dance : Giorgio’s!