Jody Watley. Blue Issey Miyake Plastic Body Mold. Performing on Soul Train 1988. I had red as well as black though I believe I had the red customized to black.
I originally wore the Issey Miyake plastic bodice on my U.K. solo single in 1984. The label didn’t believe in the project or my direction so things never got off the ground—until I returned to USA
In 1984 – London ironically not fitting their image and box of “R&B artist” the UK label wanted me to just be the girl from Shalamar and to do something similar .. I had other plans. “You have to have a vision and believe in it. It paid off for me ultimately” – Jody Watley
I was tagged in a post with the very fashion forward Zendaya rocking a Tom Ford plastic bodice this week. Gorgeous.
Full page ad Billboard Magazine, 1987 for my subsequent crossover smash debut hit – first Number 1 – AMA’s, Soul Train Awards, NAACP and Grammy nominated solo debut single “Looking For A New Love.”
The single was was of the biggest of the 1987 and the 80’s in general – a pop culture phenomenon, trendsetting style – as well with the catchphrase “Hasta La Vista Ba-by” later further popularized by Arnold Schwarznegger.
Written by Jody Watley and Andre Cymone. Produced by Andre Cymone and David Z. Photography: Victoria Pearson, Art Direction: Jody Watley & Lynn Robb. Styling: Jody Watley.
The single set the stage for one hell of a solo debut album ‘Jody Watley’ to follow. Despite my naysayers saying I’d regret leaving Shalamar, I’d fail, future in doubt as some of the black magazines wrote I succeeded then and continue to do so over 3 decades later and still on my own terms – most of all I’m happy, healthy, working and enjoying myself with my spirit and soul intact. It was never about being solo – it was to live life with joy, the greatest success. Having this all roll out this way was a gift from God and the universe – a bonus for looking after my own well being on my life’s journey. There’s so much more to say about this time, it will be in my memoir. Until then..
Thankful and full of gratitude a song of this magnitude is a part of my discography. As a note: “Looking For A New Love” also made a bit of history with the 2005 Remixes going to Number 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Play Charts, one of the first hits to become a hit again in an entirely different decade. Thanks so all the 80’s and Classics stations that keep it in rotation and shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race, Pose and beyond for the exposure to a younger generation.
What I’ve said for decades now is I hope my career and being represents to others is believe in yourself and to never be afraid to remove yourself from any situation that on the outside might look good to others – but to you it’s everything but that. You will always have doubters – just never let it be you and always be the best version of yourself – keep growing and going no matter the obstacles, often the universe will align in one way or another.
Happy 33 Anniversary — ‘Looking For A New Love”!! Timeless jam and still a damn good break up and empowerment anthem.
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.
Via Steven Houseman Music Chart Facts: November 13, 1993 – 26 Years Ago Today: Jody Watley debuted at No. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with her single, “Your Love Keeps Working On Me.” This was the R&B singer’s 12th consecutive solo chart entry and despite not budging from the No. 100 spot for 2 weeks on the chart, it did climb all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play Chart becoming her 10th solo Top 20 and 9th Top Ten Dance hit as well as her 6th Top 3. The song was written by John Barnes, Joey Diggs and Robert White.
This single from “Intimacy” continued to add more soulful rhythms and a touch of jazz into the mix. Decidedly less pop on purpose – still top notch, though my label was disappointed at the lack of crossover despite it not being that vein. To their credit, they always for the most part let me be know..with a compromise on my part here and there.
Showing a bit more skin was the label’s idea..that’s a wider ranging topic for my book covering being a woman in music and those unique dynamics.
One of my favorite television performances was “Your Love Keeps Working On Me” on The Arsenio Hall Show. Slayed it, pixie cut, bohemian, unexpected…folks weren’t ready as usual.
One of my favorite lyrics in the song is “Through you I have learned how to fly..” performing it in concert to this day my spirit gets real connected to the audience because that’s the feeling I get from the support of those supporting what I do.
Tickets on sale now for the holiday show of the season- The Colors Of Christmas. This is a classy evening of Christmas music with a few hits sprinkled in and the only time you get to see these types of onstage duets and choral performances.
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.
You’ll be surprised how rejuvenating stretching can be..at home, working out, sitting at a desk, behind a counter..whatever your job may be you can do it anywhere..good for you and a good way to begin or end a day .. or as a break midway through. Practice wellness each day.