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.
Sony Hall New York, August 16, 2019 was phenomenal. New York is always a special place, my Mom is from Harlem,my son graduated college there and lives there. It’s also extra special to see him when I go there to work too.
I won my Best New Artist Grammy in New York’s legendary Radio City Music Hall, been inspired to write songs from the vibes of New York, filmed my ‘Friends’ video there to capture that real authentic vibe with Eric B & Rakim, club kids and beyond, trendsetting fashion shoots for Harper’s Bazaar, Saks – cover of Essence Magazine back in the day..you name it. I’ve performed in the Big Apple countless times over the span of my over 3 decade solo career and counting..this ranks as the best.
There are so many rave reviews pics and video on social media (especially Instagram) – here are two that really say it all!
Via Twitter. Love!
Jody Watley. Photography by Trudy Giordano
Jody Watley. Photography by Trudy Giordano
Jody Watley. Photography: Dara Seans
Jody Watley and John ‘Havic’ Gregory – SRL.
Jody Watley – A Music Journey, performing a few of my Shalamar classics with SRL.
Fan photo capturing a moment, Sony Hall 2019.
Real Love. Striking a pose.
I had not planned to do ‘Still A Thrill’ in this show. The setlist included rare gems like ‘Nightlife’ Soulpersonal Classic Soul mix, Saturday Night Experience, the current SRL hits, ‘Precious Love’ soul mix, ‘Skin Deep’ from ‘Midnight Lounge’ a piano and vocal only ‘Everything’, the jazz bossa nova of ‘Waiting In Vain’ and more along with classic hit staples. I ended up taking a few spontaneous requests resulting in a spirited a cappella section. Video capture by Trudy Giordano.
Jody Watley and Nate Allen Smith. Photography Trudy Giordano. Sony Hall 8.16.19
Multi-talented Nate Allen Smith, male lead – SRL. Singer, songwriter, dancer, model.
The soul collective. Jody Watley & SRL.
Jody Watley. Wattage!
Thank you to the wattage crew and everyone who came, sold-out the venue (this means so much) and made it truly a magical night of music – a night to remember full of precious love.
After New York, we were off to Atlanta for the concert with Jeffrey Osborne.
Beautiful outdoor setting. Older more reserved crowd than I’m accustomed to and as the case with older R&B audiences – there’s always an initial sense of sitting in judgment maybe skeptical of what Jody Watley was going to bring to the evening. My perception is this age demo are more of the upset I’m not longer with Shalamar though it’s been nearly 4 decades and I’ve been successfully putting it down solo for over three decades and counting – always evolving and getting better with time.
The skeptics always learn..I bring a first class, high quality soulful show with lots of style, heart and my brand of soul, full of positive messages and hits – including a couple from my Shalamar days.
Jody Watley. Photo by Bill Coker.
Photography: Norman ‘NV’ Johnson
Jody Watley – Photography: Norman ‘NV’ Johnson
Jody Watley & SRL. Mable House Barnes Amphitheater.
Up next and closing out summer 2019:
Saturday August 24, 2019 – Groove 99.3 and Pacific Concert Group Present – Summer Bash, Bakersfield, CA Stramler Park (multiple acts) – Tickets
August 31, 2019 – WorldOne Concerts Presents Rewind Funk & Soul – Thunder Valley Outdoor Amphitheater – Tickets (Multiple acts)
September 7, 2019 – Blue Note Hawaii – Jody Watley ‘UnPlugged’ – Tickets
1991 “Affairs Of The Heart” album – Music & Fashion Editorial in Harper’s Bazaar – before it was common to see artists in high fashion magazines. This was my third such feature – the first came with my solo debut.
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 believe I’m still a rebel in many ways — always on my own path no matter what. You can’t break new ground if you stay in the box. It’s common for artists to do fashion layouts now — in the early days of my solo career, it was not. I pushed to be in these magazine because my Mom always had fashion magazines in the house. I remember seeing Beverly Johnson, Iman and later Naomi Campbell. I wanted to do that – there was no black artist at the time who was being featured like this. I’m proud to have quietly made it acceptable and coveted. This was my second feature of 3.
Jody Watley. Harper’s Bazaar November 1991. Photographed by Andrea Blanch
Harper’s Bazaar, November 1991. Interview:
Love Interest ” A lot of people think love songs don’t count,” says Jody Watley. “There’s a feeling that of you’re not singing about the homeless or the environment, you’re not singing about anything that matters.: But, the stunning dance diva explains, “The environment at home is what we bring into the world and we need to look at that before we can solve our other problems.” On her new album “Affairs of the Heart”, Watley is trying to weave her social concerns into the kind of infectious love songs that have filled two platinum albums and won her a 1987 Grammy Award for Best New Artist.
Watley wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on ‘Heart’ and also tried her hand at executive producing for the first time. “Win or lose, this one is my baby. Since her early days in the 80’s trio Shalamar, Watley’s reputation has rested on a rebellious fashion sense and a taste for up-tempo,, sexy grooves, but this album marks a shift in emphasis to more sophisticated ballads. She claims the change was inspired by the charming ultranontraditional version of Cole Porter’s “After You, Who?” she contributed to last years Red, Hot and Blue AIDS charity project. “I think I hadn’t challenged myself enough before that”, she says. “Now I’m trying to grow up as an artist.”
This more refined sound is also reflected in a more glamorous look. Just as she sees her love songs as an opportunity to for social commentary, Watley considers style a reflection of something more lasting that the latest fashion. “I passed a high school the other day,” she recalls, “and the kids outside looked terrible, like they had no pride in themselves. I think it would be great if they had someone they looked up to who had a classic quality, because they’re the next generation, and if their minds are anything like the way they’re dressed, we’re in trouble.” With “Affairs of the Heart”. Jody Watley may become our first role model. – Alan Light
Attended a casually chic cocktail reception at Fendi, The Beverly Center in Los Angeles. Christos Garkinos of Co-Owner of Decades, Avril Graham Executive Fashion and Beauty Editor of Harper’s Bazaar, and Carlota Espinosa CEO and Co- Founder of Styloot.com were co-hosts presenting Fendi Resort 2013.
Jody Watley and Christos Garkinos, Co-Owner of Decades.
“..making a substantial dent in the annuals of pop history..” – Harper’s Bazaar, Jody Watley 1988 photographed by legendary Francesco Scavullo.
“The label at the time didn’t want to pay the fare for the trip to New York, not understanding how appearing in a fashion magazine would help sell records or raise the artists profile..but I knew, so I paid for the trip myself. It wouldn’t be long before labels would soon get it. I was familiar with the work of Scavullo because he’d photographed one of my inspirations growing up Diana Ross and I was an avid reader of VOGUE from childhood because my Mom always bought it. ” – Jody Watley