A Motion to Dismiss was filed on my behalf back in October 2017 by my trademark attorney Michael L. Lovitz, IP Law. The Trademark Cancellation case has remained suspended since that time pending the courts decision. This Shalamar trademark challenge brought against me four years agowas finally heard and ruled on by the Trademarks and Appeals Board (TTAB)and entered into public record on February 15, 2018.
The trademark registration challenge case brought against me by Petitioner and Plaintiff Carolyn Baldwin (stage name Griffey) was Dismissed With Prejudice(no chance of appeal) by the Trademarks and Appeals Board as no evidence of record was ever presented nor entered into the challenge that proved her sole ownership or past registration claims. I could not be more pleased with the outcome.
With a litany of false and slanderous statements made against me to the public over these four years by Baldwin, her mother former singer Carrie Lucas common law wife of Solar Record’s Dick Griffey, Baldwin’s colleagues and representatives (including Michael Gardner, Vijay Bhuchar, Zak Patel, Jemma Hatt admin of “Shalamar “Friends” social media pages created after my registration of the mark, Hipolito Rodriguez and Randy Lopez of RDMJ Entertainment), cyber-bullying, implicit in undermining my trademark rights, with threats, tampering with booking agents (Sal Michaels and Pyramid Entertainment, Pollstar), promoters, and media outlets such as Soultracks’ Chris Rizik, Eurweb’s Lee Bailey (“The Trademark Belongs To Me!!” interview with Baldwin), UrbanMusicScene, as well as The Tom Joyner Morning Show (Howard Hewett interview 2016) where baseless claims and accusations of fraud against me were made without my opportunity to refute the false claims in their efforts to ruin my reputation as well as undermine, thwart and encourage non-support of my new group endeavors now named ( Jody Watley ft. SRL). This is just a sampling of some of what I’ve endured in this difficult chapter that I intend to put even further behind me, as I’ve already tried to do the past couple of years before this ultimate outcome in my favor by the TTAB.
I remain the legally registered owner of the Shalamar trademark in the United States of America as registered with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). As a result of this process I’ve also been able to put an end to false and misleading ads by Baldwin and her colleagues (Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniel) under the guise of “Carolyn owns the name, so she can do whatever she wants to do including use old photos of Shalamar to advertise with your (Jody Watley) likeness …” The charade is over.
The Terminated challenge is public record via the TTAB website for any avoidance of doubt.
I hope my efforts will inspire other artists to be more diligent about business matters and for those who have been in groups to be more proactive in how their likeness is used in the public, avoiding misrepresentation to talent buyers and fans over time allowing others to benefit and profit from your original works, image and likeness potentially damaging your own livelihood in the process.
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
Classic Ad. Individuals Of Style. Jody Watley by Herb Ritts for GAP.
I usually adhere to the following: what people say about you is none of your business..don’t waste time explaining things to those committed to not understanding and always think of Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” – the asecond agreement is to not take things personally much of what people say is a reflection of them.. there are times though lies must be addressed. Reading some of the comments, questions..prompted this very lengthy post because I’m tired of the lies against me with regard the whole “Shalamar Reunion” subject. This was going to be a short blog, however once I began working on it – I figured this may as well be as in-depth as possible. If you’re in a hurry or have a short attention span -you can skip ahead to where I address the lies that have gone on too long by Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel, Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey), various former Solar Records loyalists, Unsung and others involved. I come with receipts, as they say. That’s really what this post is all about, the truth to stop the lies…though I’m sure they will continue to my detractors and those committed to what appears to be a longstanding Jody Watley smear campaign. Since leaving Shalamar on my own accord in 1983, all I’ve done is get on with my life and career – much to the chagrin of some. For decades now I’ve said in interviews the unexpected death of my father changed how I view and live life. It’s too short to be unhappy and not living and creating our own fulfillment and joy.
It’s no secret that Black women are generally the most marginalized, disrespected, diminished, and dissected across social media and in society. It makes no difference if you’re the First Lady of the United States, an Olympic gymnast, the greatest women in tennis, pop stars, actresses like Leslie Jones attacked for taking a role some thought she shouldn’t be in, executives, journalists – who came to defend mega -star, my colleague and more than baby sister of King Of Pop Janet Jackson, after the Superbowl..or you could be working mothers or students who take heat for wearing cornrows or natural styles, welfare recipients, “baby mamas”, too loud, too spirited, too quiet, too reserved – and so on when so many of us are working our asses off to make things happen and hold things together.
We get demeaned constantly – it’s our hair, our weight, our looks, never good enough for some – doesn’t matter the socioeconomic background or level of intelligence either. Often some of the negativity and hate sadly comes directly from other black women and men. In the midst of being an artist it was my duty to raise another intelligent, strong daughter knowing the challenges not just of being a human being, a woman – add to the mix a girl and woman of color. I have many achievements to be proud of in an ongoing career – that includes hit singles and albums, first of their kind celebrity high profile ad campaigns (GAP, Saks Fifth Avenue, LA Eyeworks), fashion layouts (Harper’s Bazaar, VOGUE, Rolling Stone) where few to none black artists were showcased at the time and other significant benchmarks to numerous to list in an ongoing career- as well I am the only Grammy winning solo artist to emerge from Shalamar much to the continued chagrin of some…but the one continuously unfairly maligned as the one who needs to get over some imaginary petty grudge and bitterness that has been manufactured by others to suit their own personal feelings and bias against me – because in my 20’s I made a decision to walk away from a situation that did not serve my happiness, was bad business, included consistent demeaning behavior by some but as I’ve said would not trade it..was not all bad, and proud to be a part of a beloved R&B trio already in the history books – as I went on to make my own solo history. I am blessed and always in gratitude as I continue to evolve and grow.
That said, if anyone is under any doubt who received the backlash from Unsung – just visit some of the comments around the web. Jody Watley. A sampling of comments directed at me:
This was one that I came across actually made me laugh since no man has ever taken care of me. As a note to Jamone, I’m still single-handedly sending my youngest to college and have always been the self-sufficient bread-winner-even during a brief marriage. A self financed artist and label owner since 1995; there are men on my payroll having employed men for decades, from producers, co-producers, remixers, band members, photographers, designers, executives and other staff. So yea..gold digging bitch.
No one can ever make you feel less than you are without your consent, so these types of comments don’t phase me, I have to laugh. My sound and style contributed to the success of Shalamar – if some people don’t think so, cool. Doesn’t change my life, career or the past contributions and what I’m doing now and with SRL. After Shalamar and all of this – I am still Jody Watley.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion..and when you’re tagged they want to make sure you know their opinion – such as Charmaine and Jo Ann – other black women. There are hundreds like them venting hatred of me and others in the public eye – there’s also a lot of love. That’s where my focus is, however it’s important not to live in that bubble. Sometimes you’ve got to see the hate. If you check Jo Anne Fair’s page you’ll see Christian scriptures, although very judgmental of me .. typical. I wonder when people leave a negative comment, does it make them feel pleased with themselves in that moment..probably. Glad to not be them and I think of Don Miguel Ruiz “The Four Agreements” – the second agreement is to not take things personally, the garbage people try to inflict upon you is really what they feel.
It’s amazing as well that if I’m so insignificant, as some say and post to me..why do I keep ending up as the focus of these Unsungs? As of right now, today and as trademark owner – as long as they don’t use my likeness, or any false misleading tactics, Howard is free to be Shalamar featuring Howard Hewett , Jeffrey Daniel and Carolyn Griffey like they’ve been doing.. and remember there was a Shalamar after both Jeffrey Daniel and I both quit (cue DeLisa Davis, Micki Free, Sidney Justin). Make sure to keep supporting Howard, Jeffrey and the Baldwin Griffey group (keep reading), especially you Charmaine who took time to tag me, though she doesn’t follow me. Keep that same energy after these facts.
From a thread on my Facebook page where I posted recent airport photo with Howard.
This isn’t really about a Shalamar Reunion, this is all anti Jody Watley from my point of view rooted in envy. People take voiceovers from Unsung “..Jody Watley has declined all reunions” which is a flat out lie – as gospel.
“Unsung” – I’m not. Having achieved what many black artists strive for – crossover success. There’s no reason for me to have a grudge with anyone, but there are those who definitely hold a grudge against me because of my solo success and independence. I’ve never been a ‘just fall back in line’, ‘know your place’ ‘do what you’re told’ kind of gal.
My hope is after this lengthy post, all of you who need to, can move on instead of telling me to, when I have moved on my solo career represents that! For some none of these facts will mean anything and you’ll still think what you want – that’s fine too. This post is also for me though – needed to get this off my chest and put these facts out here – so I write and backtrack all of this for this blog.
Workers of iniquity want to see you fail or go crawling in a hole of contrition somewhere, fall off, self destruct..who knows. Stop wasting energy. People post to me “Life is too short..let it go” Let what go?? I say follow your own advice it has nothing to do with me.
Focused as always on my life, career and moving forward working on and releasing new music – new ventures, collaborations is what I’m about in my professional life.
Being dragged into unwarranted negativity and fake drama from a recent TV-One Unsung Howard Hewett – basically Unsung Shalamar Part 2 was like OK, this again? My image, name and likeness were used to drive views in social media and ratings for the broadcast walking a thin line into libel and defamation – lies, lies and more lies.
Unsung / TV-One / Unsung Producers:
Front and center. Jody Watley my name and likeness used for lies and distortion to help get ratings and generate fake drama.
Hash-tagged, fake drama, marketing for ratings. it was supposed to be about someone else’s career right? Interesting juxtaposition of the male figures Howard and Jeffrey in the shadows with Jeffrey’s posture aimed to point at – who else..Jody Watley.
Here are some facts, to be clear I had very volatile interactions with both Howard and Jeffrey in the past from verbal and physical abuse for starters, as soon as I choose to leave Shalamar it was over and behind me from my point of view .. that said The “Jody Watley has refused ALL requests for Shalamar Reunion” lie and narrative was first broadcast in 2009 with Unsung Shalamar but has been long perpetuated by Howard and his people and some in urban media. At the time because so many people wanted to know my thoughts on the broadcast. There were so many glaring omissions so I expressed my thoughts in Jody Watley Unsung Unfiltered on my Youtube channel. The omission of original male lead Gerald Brown was glaring in as much as he was clowned by Jeffrey Daniel in the episode about him waiting on a phone call – though the producers never reached out to Gerald to substantiate or get his side of what led to his departure. Gerald is included in my Unfiltered Part 8 the conclusion. Watch
In 7 years, more has happened as life and business have gone on. The production company A. Smith and Co has updated it to include the daughter of Dick Griffey who has never sang on one song with Shalamar – not one hit or album yet they revised to include her, a woman who has a personal vendetta against me which began with her father. Still no Gerald Brown though, who sang on our hit “Take That To The Bank” it’s all very shady.
I registered the Shalamar trademark to stop false ads, akin to stopping identity theft. Using old photo’s of Shalamar with me in it a ploy to help market and sell shows while putting Carolyn Griffey’s name next to my face was unethical no matter how much they said screw you, Dick Griffey owned all the photo’s so we can do what we want. My actions were nothing personal nor designed to stop anyone from working. I have no differences with anyone beyond the false ads..not to mention using old recordings with my vocals to help market shows.
A. Smith and Unsung Producers of which Howard is one updated and edited the Unsung Shalamar in 2015 after I registered the mark and after the original 2009 airing concluded “Shalamar had faded into obscurity after 1990..”This was nothing short ofan effort by TV-One/Unsung/A.Smith Co the Griffey’s, Hewett and Daniel – to assist in Baldwin (Griffey) in her trademark challenge to try give her credibility and acceptance with the public here in the United States. (Update: she lost her challenge in February of 2017).
Her challenge case status is a “Motion to Compel” (basically now she has to be forced to turn over documents to back up her claims in her challenge), meaning beyond some emails we’re waiting on real paperwork to back up her claims. The Motion To Compel was filed by my attorney Michael L. Lovitz on The Motion is viewable on the USPTO website. They’ll be doing more shows in the UK, after their recent California concert with the Whispers was cancelled – of which I had no part of.
That said – here’s the real deal and why I’m tired of the constant lies and misinformation purposely put out to create backlash, negative sentiments with the black/urban fans of the old group with regard to me. Misinformation is designed to undermine and damage my personal reputation and professional livelihood.
My new side project and group who are not Shalamar, are not a tribute act and not trying to recapture the past, it’s an entity not unlike Prince having The Revolution, NPG, Third Eye Girl etc. There not two of Shalamar’s right now. I continue to thrive in my solo career, with SRL a part of my concert experience and a creative extension on record.
Howard and Jeffrey have not been trying to work with me for twenty years – they are under contract to the Griffey family who has dictated who they can work with if they are to do ‘Shalamar’ and that female is Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey), this fact that neither Howard or Jeffrey will acknowledge in favor of the tired narratives they peddle came out during Carolyn’s challenge. I pitched a ‘Farewell Tour’ to them in 2011 having come around to the idea for fans and to be honest to shut people up on the subject (not to mention inviting them to sing on my ‘1998 Flower’ album at the behest of Atlantic Records – it didn’t work out)…keep reading.
Shalamar Reloaded concept which is also its own registered mark #USPTO 4952825- it’s a new brand, all made very clear in all marketing and advertising. This is clear in our efforts making new music, video’s and so on. Carolyn has threatened to challenge and sue me over this registration as well.
SRL has received quite a bit of press and released new music as well generated trolls, haters and naysayers as well.
I’m not out here pimping the past, there’s a personal and business commitment as well as investing financially in this – my money for every single, video, hired publicist, the album we’re working on, etc. Attempts to stigmatize or undermine the work, dollars and time devoted to my new endeavors are a waste of time and energy – move on. We are in the now. I am in the now always with whatever I’m doing.
All of this makes me who I am. This is my journey not up for public vote. I’ll continue to live my life and conduct it as I choose. Folks are mad because I’m living my life and handling business – away from the old Solar regime as I’ve been doing as a solo artist for nearly 30 years and counting and a level of quality to anything in what I do.
This was a great comment and a reminder to me that there are many who do get it and see through the lies and who uplift me by taking time to post positive comments in hailstorms.
Here’s a timeline of communications over the years..I’m going to start with recent events as they are most relevant, unless you’re a person stuck on events of 20 and over 30 years ago – then working my way to the 1996 – Babyface reunion over 21 years ago that people including Howard Hewett, Jeffrey Daniel, TV-One/Unsung etc are still making much ado about nothing over.
When registering the mark which became effective May 23 2014 USPTO #4,530,877 (covered already in various interviews and blog posts here on my site) – I’d extended an invitation to Howard to join me for a few dates.
My initial concept for “Shalamar” (you can’t register a mark and not use it and so I had to set make a plan). Initially, “Shalamar” under my legally registered trademark would with Gerald Brown (who remains a friend of mine) a collaborator on the hit single “Nightlife.” In the end Gerald was unable to do what we’d planned causing me to revise things.
Email Excerpts November 3, 2014:
Blocked! I attempted to look up a tweet Howard had tagged me in last year to the effect of “People are asking what I think of @jodywatley Shalamar Reloaded..I’m not interested in that..” It was something to that effect, as I tend to do – simply ignored it. Back in 2015 his tweet to me was followed by a series of tags/tweets from his friends online bully Vijay Bhuchar (the Shalamar/Shalamar Friends friend and t-shirt vendor in the UK) and oddly singer Phil Perry. I never responded nor acknowledged it. I had to laugh at loud when I saw “You are blocked..” Really? Who’s mad?
**Update (Sept.12, 2016) thank you to the fan on Twitter who pulled this tweet I was referring too and a few more..”
The line-up that tours the UK with Carolyn; a woman who never song on one hit single or classic album is now #TheRealShalamar ? Ok…
“..you can’t still be mad after 30 years..” referring to me, Jody Watley when really Howard must be speaking of himself ” further adds “..she got the trademark illegally..” more lies and slander from Howard Hewett on Tom Joyner Morning Show
What rift????!Mad at what??!! I am tired of these lies, but still not mad, and classy enough to smile when we bumped into each other at the airport.
In this instance I have every right to be annoyed at the constant attempts to damage my reputation to put a damper on the love and respect that so many do have for me. The above links interview are after these emails initiated by me further disproving the constant need to mislead the public, attempting to create a negative backlash ..Stop the lies, and attacks against me. I’m not the one with the grudge – clearly.
When I reached out to Howard October 13, 2014..it took him nearly a month to see it..check it and a year later October 2015 he continues to speaks of the imaginary ‘..rift..’ instant airtime with Tom Joyner..who, I’d add – never had me to come on and reply to these lies and allegations..
but yet months later, another year later he’s still peddling the fake ‘rift’ ‘Jody’s mad..’ lie.
What rift, other than the one Howard obviously wants people to think exists – and maybe it does within himself – maybe one day he can move on, let it go and stop being petty by peddling lies as well as those who work with him who hide behind troll accounts and bolding trying to tarnish my name across the web.
It’s probably Jody Watley right? Wrong. When people make assumptions about things they are clueless about and have bought into this mythical – it’s her..she’s not willing to forgive nonsense. I moved on the day I left Shalamar on July 4, 1983.
Hadn’t spoken to Jeffrey in over nearly 15 years. He was desperate to talk to me. He, Howard, Caroyln and their manager Michael Gardner were up in arms about the fact I’d started a new group. Jeffrey contacted me through booking agent Sal Michaels at Pyramid, he had been a booking agent of Shalamar in the 80’s and we’d recently reconnected. Sal was being harassed and threatened with lawsuits to sabotage my efforts by Michael Gardner on behalf Baldwin, Jeffrey and Howard.
One of many emails threatening to sue (without merit) in an attempt to sabotage booking efforts.
I will only excerpt the relevant portion with regard to Shalamar and potentially working together. Perhaps the question to him is why do you keep saying Jody is the reason there’s never been a reunion, though from his comments on Unsung, I think Jeffrey is suffering extreme memory loss and speaking with him confirmed my suspicion- that or denial. Knowing the facts of the Dick Griffey mandate and the fact they never asked me prior to that with any real specifics is what he should convey and recent talks rather than over 20 years ago.
Jeffrey Daniel January 2015 Email-I have not heard a word nor received a response since. “Shalamar Reloaded” has since been solidified, they continue to do more shows than ever in the UK – so it’s all good.
Maybe someone can ask Jeffrey why he hasn’t mentioned this most recent correspondence from last year – why the lie about Jody being the problem? What problem? Why is it he only brings conversation from the 90’s and not the most recent?
Because Jeffrey and I exchanged conversation about his family, his children, his God-daughters in Lagos, my children, etc..I have only extracted what he said in regards to possibly getting together “Shalamar.” They went on to a festival ‘Let’s Rock Bristol’ – as my group had done the year before at Let’s Rock London. Not another peep from Jeffrey who I gather is powerless which is sad for him as the only original of those 3.
For reasons only Howard and Jeffrey knows – they continue to perpetuate the lie that I’ve been the problem with “Reunion” knowing the truth is they haven’t asked me – even when they did a “Reunion Tour in the UK called “The Second Time Around Tour” using my likeness mind you, to generate more commerce in fees. I was told by fans there of them telling the audiences I didn’t show, couldn’t make it butwas welcome anytime – also not true. This year I found out the real reason behind why they haven’t asked me – provided by Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey stage name) in some emails in her declaration.
Here’s an example of what led me to research the actual ownership as a refresher – I’ve covered this is a couple of other blog posts and interviews.
Pre-Trademark registration and the last ambiguous and or false misleading ad they did don’t believe me? Check their respective facebook pages pre May 2014.. and compare it to after May 2014 when they learned I’d registered the mark. I’ve never been asked to do any of these shows in the UK for those who’ve asked – yet they deceived the public and were able to increase their fees by making the ticket buyers believe they were seeing a ‘reunion’.. their manager said this was the old Shalamar with that classic 3..so if so, why this? They have tried to make people believe there was never a Jody Watley — or Delisa Davis for that matter, only Carolyn by using old photo’s with me – with her name.
Shalamar from 1979 with me, Jeffrey and Howard – my name replaced with Griffey’s – under mandate from Griffey.
Read the ad..Imagine that – only the woman in the photo is me – Jody Watley.
Look at this carefully – it’s me but they replaced my name with Carolyn, they were slowing trying to make her the original female. It’s like identity theft.
The emails below became a part of the Baldwin (Griffey) challenge this year with the TTAB (Trademark and Appeals Board) – it made everything make sense.
Emails from Dick Griffey mandating who will be in “Shalamar” among other revelations. This is not proof of ownership, as a note – just someone demanding someone follow his demands – something they continue to do. This fact was certainly not covered in Unsung nor any interview they’ve done. Instead – they say Jody won’t do it..the truth is, they are doing what they were told by Dick Griffey dating back to 2001 apparently.
It’s easier to throw me under the bus than admit they Howard and Jeffrey work under the belief that “Shalamar” belongs to Carolyn (Baldwin) Griffey and they back her up. Why not include that in Howard’s Unsung..rather than the fake narrative? Instead, you get manufactured “beef ” so that the public can accept Carolyn and buy into the lie that “Jody Watley has refused all reunions..”
These documents are a part of the Baldwin challenge to my legal registration with the USPTO which stopped them for advertising in the UK using images that included me – Jody Watley and changing my name to hers – as if she were the original woman in Shalamar which is also of course not true. They had a charade going – I stopped it for those who question how I came to the trademark. Even as owner at the outset, my attorney told them they could use the name just stop false ads.
The “Real” Shalamar according to Howard, Jeffrey and Carolyn:
Howard Hewett, Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey) and Jeffrey Daniel. 2016
**Updated (Sept.12, 2016) thank you to the fan who in-boxed me on Twitter.
Presented to my attorney Michael L. Lovitz, IP Law and in declaration documents.
Entered as ‘evidence’ from Carrie Lucas, CL ..Carolyn Lucas, former Solar artist amd widow of Dick Griffey by her daugher Carolyn Baldwin (Griffey)
– Interesting all around..my jaw dropped further when I got to the part about Griffey’s thoughts on “The Look” album. This is what they didn’t want to say in the first Unsung. This confirmed in writing for me that he’d allowed Howard to take over the album which drove a further wedge with Jeffrey who quit before the album was recorded after his part on ‘Dead Giveaway’ and then I quit during filming of video of ‘Dead Giveaway’ and just before the album release, we were both threatened to be sued and blackballed from the business – the end of that era for Shalamar..while people still blame me ..
Tunde is Jeffrey’s longtime friend and ‘manager’
At Last!! A photo. The end of the charade, false and misleading ads. Baldwin (Griffey) had yet to remember she was the owner after 14 years according to her subsequent challenge filed in August ..but she did at last submit a photo for them to use at Indigo2 2014. They’ve been taking photo’s and posting since..even poached my new ‘Shalamar’ logo at one point boldy putting it on their first official photo session after 14 years..
Despite this and the recent public revelations in the United States – it was only after my registration that they began to mention her by name – in fact they just apparently introduced her in July 0f 2015..after using my likeness in the UK for years – the charade was over because of my registration.
2015 – the introduction, after 14 years..but she’s been in it since 2001 right?
BET Awards 2014– BET and Jesse Collins Ent. offered me a solo spotlight and Shalamar reunion surprise appearance – I agreed and in the end said no because the producers were not holding up to their end of the offer, we could not agree creatively as they wanted to turn it into something else entirely – again, this is a business one shouldn’t have to dim a light for others to shine and why do it if not for maximum impact, it was not about just getting onstage crooning ballads. Agreements are to be honored not baited and switched. BET, Jesse Collins, Mike Gardner manager and Howard Hewett were the reason this performance subsequently never happened. They wanted to add a Howard feature and I was fine with it..though it was not in their offer to me…it went downhill from there.
BET Acceptance Letter:
Jeffrey Email RE: BET / Howard Email Excerpts:
Essence Festival Pitch from Avid – 2014
In a follow-up phone call with with Wallace Butts of Avid Music Inc, it was reiterated there was no interest in a ‘Shalamar Reunion’ as I gauged interest post trademark registration.
2011 –After meeting concert promoter / producer friend to Howard Hewett Bill Hammond at a charity event, he was keen on discussing a possible “Reunion” tour. Bill has a past history in quality events. I pitched the “Farewell” concert for the USA to give closure to the American fans who are still interested.
This time it all fell apart when he told me he’d had a great conversation with Howard but that Carolyn would have to be involved and we’d need her permission, she’d need to be on background vocals – there was never another woman singing with Shalamar when I was in it – there was no need and no need to start. My voice and tone always held it down, nothings changed. Howard was looking out for Carolyn and that’s his choice so it’s perfect he continues to work for the Griffey’s and remain loyal to them.
I choose to have no dealings with the Griffey’s in any capacity – Dick Griffey himself was never a fan of mine and treated me with disrespect not to mention not properly compensating us – that era taught me what not to accept moving forward and I remain grateful for the experience, however those days are gone.
No smart business person is walking back into that situation. Any of the former members could have also done what I did and researched the trademark instead of accepting wolf tickets.
Bill Hammond Email: 2011 Farewell Tour Conversation
Excerpt continued from March 29, 2011 email exchange with Bill Hammond
I opted out of pursuing it further once Howard said Carolyn would have to giver permission and also be a part of it..No thanks.
THIS. The Charade. Hit Me Baby One More Time.
2005 – I was deep into ambient electronica ‘Midnight Lounge” era musically and creatively. It’s one of my best albums and most critically acclaimed. Jeffrey, Howard and Carolyn go on UK Hit Me Baby One More Time and are introduced as “Shalamar” back together again – “Reunited.” Jeffrey proclaims “it’s like when we were here back in the day – not when Howard and I were here..when “we” were here as they all gather around to look at the footage. The video package with old footage features me – Jody Watley performing and intermixed with Carolyn implying it’s the same person – reunited remember. When she says “Oh, look – there’s Jermaine” that was like whoa – my best friend who wrote a song about me – Jody. Why use Carolyn to point out Jermaine..hmm – obvious. The charade begins. Was I asked to be a part of this? No. Read earlier mandate by Dick Griffey..tell the truth guys.
Carolyn, you’re not the original woman in Shalamar. Making sure she was not introduced by name in 2005. A simple Shalamar is back with a new member..but – no. The UK has been made to believe – she is me since 2005, until I stopped the falsehoods.
WATCH!! Jody Watley, the one some say insignificant to “Shalamar” always right there..my likeness and old Shalamar images, Soul Train..music video, performances..”They’re back!” Really?
How many closeups of me, Jody Watley can you count? Even Gerald Brown “Take That To The Bank” is used in the package as well. Notably though, when they take the stage there’s no distinction made of who is on the stage..that’s not me, Jody Watley but certainly I was used without permission..they could have had the real thing but they chose an imposter. Did they or any of their reps reach out to me? No and as I said, it all made sense once the emails provided by Carolyn for her challenge of my registration were in my possession as a part of this legal journey.
Going back, at the time my website was called missjodywatley.com – I was flooded with messages that Jeffrey and Howard were trying to pass some girl off as me on a TV show. This is how I came to know about it. I addressed it on the site and made it clear it wasn’t me and that what they were doing was not OK. I received an email from Tunde Babola, Jeffrey’s longtime manager and friend. I use to have to occasional friendly exchange with Tunde until that point. He admonished me for the post clarifying the charade – and told me to take it down. I said there was no reason to take it down and the false presentation wasn’t legal or right. He told me, and I’ll never forget it “Lest you forget, Dick Griffey owns Shalamar lock, stock and barrel..” to which my reply was “Well I own Jody Watley and this website lock, stock and barrel and if you don’t like my posts stay off of my website. I’ve never spoken to him since. When the video’s were posted on Youtube, it was truly flabbergasting to actually see what they’d done and it still is. I forgive them, it’s all really low and pathetic to me. It’s a reminder of how shady this business and how people can be while in the public presenting something entirely different; including using the umbrella of being ‘a Christian.’ Your beliefs don’t make you righteous, your behavior does.
2000 – Jeffrey says he asked me once around this time to perform with them in his email to me from January 2015 and I turned it down. I don’t recall it, nor do I recall ever receiving a firm contract offer or anything of that nature. In 1999-2000 for was going into my experimental electronica era. The Saturday Night Experience Vol. 1 featuring Jody Watley. There was no photo of me on the cover, just sound waves.
I was burnt out on the commercial part of the business and more in the underground rejuvenation phase – as well I was deep into motherhood enjoying raising my children who have always been my priority. During this time, I also wanted to distance myself from the 80’s which had been so good to me and continue to pay my bills- over time, I came back around to that and put those songs back in my show.
If I did decline that one time, I suppose it wasn’t to be revisited? It’s as if in their world people and philosophies don’t change. Frozen in time, that’s how some are and that’s fine for them. They don’t grow, change evolve -and remain rigid, never progressing in life. People change their minds all the time -the next day, week, month or year…it’s kind of funny when you think about it. There’s a favorite moment, a teachable lesson from daughter when she was little-she loved broccoli..and then she didn’t, when I asked ‘But I thought you liked broccoli..she replied “Well Mommie, taste buds change you know..” it’s a metaphor for life.
Adding more back story to this period – During this time I hired Jeffrey for shows to Japan to do “Shalamar” segment. Ironically Rosero from SRL was a dancer with me then and was on the trip. The execs at MJJ had taken Jeffrey off payroll and he was having financial issues. I extended help to someone who I’ve always had a tumultuous off and on friendship, though he remains in denial about that fact. But even if we are no longer friends, I will help someone like that because holding onto tribulations is a waste of energy. After that trip in 2000 -we never spoke after that until January 2015 when he contacted Sal Michaels at Pyramid desperate to talk to me – I’ll save that for my memoir.
1998 – Just One More Time. Howard, Jeffrey and I went into the studio to record the song “Just One More Time” for Atlantic Records, it was written and produced by Jamey Jaz. We recorded, all three of us together on Beverly Blvd atWestlake Studios. This fact can be substantiated by Craig Kalman of Atlantic and other former executives such as John “Johnny D” DeMairo and Rich Christina. The song of which I have somewhere deep in storage on a cassette and recently asked Jamey if he had his copy and said no. It was scrapped in favor of my solo performance as Craig was unhappy with the outcome of it. He lost interest in perhaps trying another song because he said Hewett’s voice had lost it’s magic and we didn’t sound good together.I have no idea why neither Howard or Jeffrey acknowledge this fact – but continue to go with the “..our hopes are dashed because of Jody Watley” even after decades. People comment to me with such conviction in their vitriol..forgive yourselves for attacking me over things you have no clue about and move on. Tell the truth guys. Why don’t you mention this???? Drama sells.
1996 – The Babyface Reunion Album — Howard, Jeffrey and myself were in negotiations for a Shalamar Reunion album. At first, I wasn’t that into it. Babyface convinced me how great it would be and also he spoke of his past not always pleasant dealings with Dick Griffey. My potential deal was being negotiated by Rosalyn E. Jones, ESQ my longtime entertainment attorney. In the end there was no agreement – no deal could be reached. Howard’s manager wanted more money for him..we were not a group and hadn’t been for over decade and this harkened back to when I left Shalamar in the first place due to Howard; making his own side deals with Griffey who was not paying me or Jeffrey what we deserved. To Dick Griffey we were always those ‘dancers’. That’s not badmouthing the man, that’s my experience and at one time Jeffrey’s – but he doesn’t remember that. The break-up in 1983: Melody Maker – read what Jeffrey said when it was all fresh. HERE
This is business, I’m not a dancer, or some naive girl floundering and clueless. I’m an established artist, a business woman. It wasn’t me trying to get more than everyone else though surely I’d earned the same right. Sure, it could have been cool but it didn’t work and I am a big believer that some things happen for a reason – pay attention to the universe and life. I have great respect for Babyface. I nearly worked with him when I was on MCA but it never happened..I don’t walk around pissed off that it didn’t work out. Life goes on, but that’s just me.
1996 – Top of The Pops Taping on Santa Monica Pier – all of us together…what is the reason TV-One, Unsung, A. Smith and Co Productions, Howard, Jeffrey continue to omit this? It doesn’t feed the Jody Watley has refused all reunions lie. I had no problem appearing with them although it was disappointing that they didn’t want to rehearse or work with a choreographer so we were just milling about in the performance – but that’s was just my input then. People need to stop acting like it never happened in favor of fake drama where there was none. Why isn’t this ever shown in these Unsung Shalamar episodes?
This video was uploaded by my company under the account Classic Shalamar on November 2011 another reaction to the false statement that Jody Watley has declined ALL Reunions made in Unsung Shalamar, 2009. Otherwise, it’s unlikely anyone else would have..Howard, Jeffrey, Babyface, LL Cool J, A.Smith and Co, Unsung, know of this video and taping in 1996 – but yet…I’ve refused ALL reunions. Stop it.
1996 – “For The Lover In You” Video Babyfacewith Hype Williams. The blown out of proportion “Jody refused to film with us..”. I was flying in from concerts in Japan and it made sense in the end to simply film my scene on green screen as Hype said he was doing with all of us anyway from what I recall. An appointment with the stylist was made of Williams’ choosing, the awesome June Ambrose. She pulled hot pieces, I selected the leather maxi – had no clue what Jeffrey and Howard chose – we were not a group.
The day of the shoot each Howard and Jeffrey had filmed their scene by the time I arrived. Was there someone there who said, you can’t talk to Jody? No, and no big deal. It was a job, I showed up, did my part and that was that. It was three people shooting scenes for a song we all had a part in. That said did I have concerns about how the vibe would be from two men I hadn’t worked with in a long time and had some negative and positive encounters the years since? Yes of course, anyone would have. This was about scheduling, not shade throwing. Williams never said we can’t do this if you’re not all together.
I would totally acquised to that if that was the case. I never thought it would become an ‘issue’ for some and used as a part of a smear campaign.
If it were such a big problem for me and no one could ‘get Jody Watley in the room..and the “what shade went down” lie — what changed in a few weeks for the taping of Top Of The Pops on the Santa Monica Pier? Why didn’t I simply decline participating at all? Why do you think this fact has been left out twice now on a national documentary series, which be repeated over and over? It’s a better story and drama sells – the villian in this story has been purposefully made to be me – Jody Watley, the Grammy winning artist with the crossover career..Chew on that.
Despite these facts, when I bumped to Howard again recently at the airport (he’d dashed out quickly when he saw me on arrival after autograph seekers alerted me to his presence) as fate would have it we were on the same return flight. Trust me he was very much the cat who swallowed the canary when I was in proximity and he had to speak..I was cordial, we spoke, I filmed a video – we on the same flight and never said another word after that. I could have confronted him for all of the lies and false statements about me but as Michelle Obama said “When they go low – we go high.”
Hewett also recently went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and slandered me saying I’d committed fraud by registering the trademark, a claim without merit intended to damage my reputation. Lies and pettiness. Currently a Motion to Compel is pending with the USPTO Trademark and Appeals Board because Baldwin (Griffey) has yet to cooperate in proving her case. (Update: Baldwin Griffey lost her challenge with USPTO as of February 2017).
A fan, collector had these posters from 1980 and wanted me to sign on March 26, 2016 NYC BB Kings’s after a sold out show with Shalamar Reloaded. He’d asked Howard to sign after seeing him not long before..the way Howard signed and where he signed says a lot about his frame of mind with regards to Jody Watley. Grudge?
The man mentioned he told Howard he was wrong for that and to sign the other side of the poster after defacing the first. I signed this version. BB King’s NYC March 26, 2016
With Howard in 2011 when I was on Grammy Board LA Chapter
2009 before airing of Unsung: Shalamar
Great comment and observation Dotun.
We were and are all different people. Personally, I’m always evolving but I really don’t have time for negative people, people who don’t respect me, uplift me as I do those around me..any situation that’s not going to be joyful why bother? My thing, and you can go back and read decades of my interviews – it’s always about being happy at the core of all that I do in this life that presents it’s highs, lows, challenges and triumphs. My focus is always what I’m in the moment doing and promoting – not what I’ve done unless in brief context in questions asked when I’m doing promotions. There’s nothing to repair.
In Carolyn Baldwin’s declaration and challenge from 2014 she got a statement from former Solar Records attorney Virgil Roberts. Virgil said in his statement that while he and Griffey urged me to stay and what a mistake it would be I allegedly said “I’d rather be a ticket taker at The Baldwin Hills Theater than to stay in this group..” great line for the movie of my life! I was barely into my 20’s – I’ve always had guts, balls and faith. As long as I’m happy – I’m good. Money doesn’t buy that. Jody Watley – petty? No, just a smart young lady who grew into an even smarter woman defining her life – her way. Still learning, still growing – some people will never like me for being me I’m good with that.
Howard, Jeffrey and I are strangers in many regards who were once in a group, put together by fate for a very brief time – but we made a great mark. It’s cool to be a part of that and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated it a lot more no matter how difficult or tumultuous it was, there was some good in it too. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t change a thing, it’s a small part of my life that helped teach me, if only what I don’t like, or my own value when others constantly tried to demean me (and still in their lies) – as some do now. Former colleagues (I know some may cringe at that) though I don’t know what else to refer to us as – we are not friends but that doesn’t make for enemies either..nor should it make people lie. We are frozen for all time on past recordings and the shows we did 79-83, 4 years a couple of lifetimes ago. Let it be what it was because it will never be that again.
To the old school fans –Enjoy the way that music that made you feel good and recall those special moments what you thought was great chemistry – it’s never coming back that started to corrode in 1982 and came to an end in 1983 (Jeffrey break-up interview from 1983 – Here) ..Go try to make new special moments and memories that’s what life should be about as long as we’re here. Some things as much as you may want aren’t meant to be. Anyone who follow me knows that I’m always saying others that the best days aren’t behind – appreciate the past yes..but hey we’re all still here – LIVE LIFE. That’s what my current “Paradise” release is all about.
Those old Shalamar days – that’s probably as good as it’s going to get for some but not me as my career has already proven.
So-Howard and Jeffrey, take responsibility, stop the lies and carry on with Carolyn. Own what you’re doing with her – it’s OK if you guys choose to be loyal to the Griffey’s and the days gone by of Solar Records.
It’s also worth mentioning the Solar Records trademark was only just registered by Unidisc..who’s challenging and fighting that?! I’m just saying. Maybe it’s just a let’s go after Jody Watley because we don’t like her thing.
One of many threats..
There wasn’t even merchandise until after the legal registration with my company making available a range of items. The creation of their Shalamar Friends Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by Howard, Jeffrey and Carolyn and their representatives and advocates all followed the very public launch of my Shalamar Reloaded entity – I’m about living a life of joy and business not drama.
Maya Angelou – Still I Rise.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
As I proceed, forward.
“You can drill holes in my boat but I will always float to the top! I eat from the tops of trees bitches!!! WATTAGE!!!! Keep the lights on and burn brightly… My flame may flicker but that shit is still burning bitches!!!! ” Thank you to my friend Sandra Green for sending me these words of encouragement and inspiration as I was finishing this.
My solo career continues as the SRL collective will remain an extension of what I do – and we continue to do what works for us understanding not everyone will be with it, including certain urban media outlets in particular and of course the record buying public. Not everyone likes a woman in the driving seat, or that it’s a group with two men or..you name it..some people will never like me period. As I said earlier, it won’t change my life, destiny or path one bit beyond making me stronger and more focused.
Ultimately.. I will continue living be best life – in gratitude even with obstacles. I’ll also continue to wish my haters well and being an inspiration to all.
Jody Watley Presents Club Paradise. Design Ray Easmon and Jody Watley
Mock-up of stage for presentation treatment Jody Watley Segment BET Awards 2014 Proposal.
Shalamar Nightlife-ized for Club Paradise. Design Ray Easmon
For the past 5 years, I’ve been approached by BET to reunite with Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewett for the BET Awards to close the show as surprise performers. Throughout the process, my representatives as a condition on with their desired Shalamar reunion of the particular renowned classic line-up in the evolving entity, that I be allotted a spotlight as well. With a solo catalog of hits it just business sense and recognizing the strength of what I bring to the table. Other artists who have come from groups and gone on to great solo success while also making a mark in pop culture request the same. At the core, it’s always down to business for me – nothing personal. All parties agreed finally after 4 years of no to a “Jody Watley”, “we don’t want her to do that” by various people in other camps – so it seemed we were finally on for 2014. The reluctance or (dis)agreeance was baffling from a business point of view despite these hits which span R&B/Pop/Dance and Hip Hop (Friends with Eric B & Rakim). Having sold millions, and impacted pop culture through my music, video, style, etc. is something I will never allow to be diminished for the benefit and ego others as long as I live. With my fans, I always encourage people to not let their personal value be defined and diminished by others. We all have a choice of how we let other’s treat us. I live that as much as I can in my personal and business life. Some think ‘Oh, you’re not hot, or this or that anymore’ and believe that it’s an opening to get you to think less of yourself and drop your standards. I will never have that mentality. Understand a lot of people are still upset at my solo success – trust me. I say, never give up your power. On my official invitation letter it appeared they agreed, a solo segment for Jody Watley, a Shalamar reunion with Howard and Jeffrey. I was actually looking forward to it, try as some continuously go around trying to paint a picture of me as some sort of hold-out, or with personal differences.
As I’ve said for decades – I have no personal differences with anyone, don’t believe the decades of innuendo by Hewett and his team, Jeffrey and clueless Shalamar ‘fans’. The barrier is always business, creative and ego. Let’s put her in her place and marginalize all that she’s achieved. Never going to happen. I can’t force anyone to raise their standards, but I know I’ll never lower mine. Everything fell apart in May after a few conference calls. Over the past year my team and I had worked to put something together for two iconic performances for myself as well as the ‘Classic’ Shalamar lineup. I didn’t want to take a call and go into this unprepared. Always be prepared even if other’s don’t expect you to be is my advice. If you have followed my solo career at all, you should know this is nothing new. I plan, prepare, and always try to bring a level of fabulousness and style to what I do. As a woman, what I’ve learned is we have to be even more on point, because expectations are usually low or tinged with sexism.
I pitched something that would have made everyone look great. This was not just an opportunity from my point of view as was said “a chance to be on television in front of 8 million people”, as Hewett’s manager said angrily after the fact. For me, if it wasn’t going to be right, that was 8 million reasons to not do it. I don’t care about exposure, if it’s the wrong kind. I’ve never been about that. The politics in this business is real – what do you do? Keep pushing, keep doing the work and being true to yourself and keeping life in perspective. Enjoy the life and opportunities that come to fruition. There’s a lesson in everything. The possibility to reunite and perform with Rakim for our classic and groundbreaking “Friends” was thrilling. I teased this on my Facebook page, during a time discussions were taking place. There is no doubt, Rakim and I would have shut it down with that surprise performance alone, and it would have been perfect as Rakim with younger people is still seen as a Rap/Hip Hop god MC. It made sense to design a high energy and fierce Shalamar segment which would feature “A Night To Remember.” That is not what Howard Hewett and his team, inexplicably BET nor Jeffrey Daniel wanted. Once we got into it, their terms changed, and I felt like it was all a bait and switch – typical of how some of them do business. BET and Howard’s manager wanted a ballad section – where they envisioned Shalamar coming out. A ballad segment beginning with Howard, which I reiterate this was not in the original agreement that “I” agreed to. I still said fine. Let Howard do one of his ballads, which they wanted after my altered segment sans Rakim — then let’s hit them with “A Night To Remember.”
Their intention and vision was completely different. Rakim was cut, once the music medley was sent. If you don’t know, “Friends” featuring Eric B and Rakim is one of the first to feature the blend of Pop R&B/HipHop/Rap. The single was a multi-format hit single Pop, R&B and Dance. It’s a touchstone in popular music and a formula that became a dominant force in music – the collaboration with a full 16 bar verse. Respect. The ‘Club Paradise’ theme was cut, and the ability to mash-up my section into something with production elements, video screens, classic imagery, dancers, “Real Love” fashion walkers, etc. It was probably a mistake to begin with to try to link all of these performances, however it has worked for Justin Timberlake (MTV Awards brining out NSync) and Beyonce (Superbowl bringing out Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland for a Destiny’s Child moment). For “A Night To Remember” my team and I had Jeffrey Daniel coming out in lights to showcase his body popping. Dramatic lighting, sound effects, the whole bit. Modern Shalamar logo, more use of the big screen – a full party vibe for the audience in the venue and at home watching.
This, from my point of view and how I saw it – was also something to generate positive social media as well not to mention any potential upside. No one seemed to care much about an iconic moment – just let’s get those 3 together onstage. Some were just content to be on TV. The dance feature was dismissed as something that was being forced on them, from my perception “Well, Jeffrey wants to dance” of course he did – as if this was a bad thing? It was in my synopsis! Jeffrey’s dancing, as well as Shalamar as a group concept at our creation by Don Cornelius, the dance was one of the key elements that made Shalamar unique. Our choreography and style made us stand out as a perfect compliment to the music – which began with disco, no matter how much some might hate that fact. BET and Howard’s reps wanted a more ballad heavy presentation which for me would have been lackluster and would have ruined the impact. They requested a full medley with the group coming out on ‘This is For The Lover In You’. I said this isn’t a concert it’s television ‘moment’ let’s hit them with some fresh moves, the ultimate party jam and impact of “A Night To Remember.”
Proper time would have been required to properly stage and rehearse including choreography to really ‘bring it.’ Some people involved don’t want to dance or be bothered with choreography it appears – that’s not Shalamar, nor is it me. 2 days to rehearse monumental performances wasn’t cutting it. I love to entertain and give 1000%. Bringing a sense of style is apparent in all of my work past and present. Although the Shalamar that Howard and Jeffrey have morphed into when they’ve done a few shows in the U.K. with their hired singer the dancing is gone, and that’s comfortable for them to simply sing behind Howard – this is not how Shalamar was created before he got there. To each his own. They can get away with this once a year at Indigo2 in London (using my photo and likeness I’d add to assist with selling the show, one of the reasons I’ve now acquired trademark rights, do the show – stop using my likeness). They wanted to do what they do – I wanted to do what felt like the best for ‘television’ for everyone; something bigger and more exciting. It was not to be, again. This isn’t the first time, and for me at this point represents that are creative understandings and ways about doing business are too far about to bear. Big Boi had done a mash-up of “A Night To Remember” and we had him in our pitch, for the younger viewers if he was available — and I was aware he’d be in town for the BET Experience with OutKast. Shortly after it all fell apart, Mary J. Blige released her cover of the same song.
To me it was another sign from God and the universe. That was the song we were supposed to do – and I had agreed to do it! They were stuck on ballads as if this was the BET Lounge. Fail. They don’t get it and probably never will. To each his own. I felt compelled to write this so you the fans know what happened, as I’m sure there are those who behind the scenes will once again paint me out to be the villainess, and put words in my mouth or misrepresent what went down. They were the ones not willing to compromise. If it were me – I would have agreed to at least have a hot as fire version of ‘A Night To Remember’ for that segment as opposed to nothing at all. The concept of “Club Paradise” was also torpedoed, with new music on the horizon it also didn’t make sense for me to just go on and sing classics, as if my musical journey and continued evolution had stopped. The setting would have been a chic and contemporary one that would have been fabulous for everyone; not simply an uninspired ‘old-school’ moment where we are just onstage meandering about.
I will never be talked into doing something I don’t want to do – nor do I expect it from others. That is the great divide and why I work with like-minded people. Life is too short. Bringing forth a quality product in entertainment and not go through the motions is always important – but that’s just me. Creative differences derailed the BET Awards 2014 appearance. I was not willing to diminish my brand as Jody Watley nor the brand of Shalamar which I helped create and am now the legal trademark rights holder of to pump up someone else’s profile and ego. I look forward to rejuvenating the Shalamar brand, which really began with my inspirations for “Nightlife” a topic I’ve talked about over the past year – whether some were paying attention or not. “Nightlife” was a full circle moment bringing me back together with original Shalamar male vocalist Gerald Brown of “Take That To The Bank.” “Nightlife” went into the Top 5 in the UK (Commercial Pop and Urban) and garnered a position at #18 in Billboard on the Hot Dance Club Play Charts. My love of disco, dance, dance music and fashion is at the core.
Perhaps at some point, the ‘Classic’ lineup can get together and get on the same creative page for a ‘Farewell Reunion Tour” which I did pitch some years ago as quiet as it’s kept, but was met with the same dismissive tone. I’ve always said I’m not much for reunions however from a business standpoint, I have been open to it if done the right way – creatively, respectfully and equitable on the business end if it makes sense. However, as a business woman I see no reason to let the name “Shalamar” be relegated solely to the past, which was part of my enthusiasm to join forces with Gerald for ‘Nightlife’ and revisiting my own disco roots. Gerald and I will be doing a select round of Jody Watley Presents: Shalamar concerts with a spotlight and celebration of disco soul.
I have many exciting ideas for a younger generation and marketplace and look forward to working with my team to see them to fruition as acquisition and extension of my business umbrella, as well as for the classic heads that just wish to hear ‘the music.’ I’ve continued to work on my planned release of “Paradise” which is coming soon, and wish everyone the best. This is the same BET who have never invited me to be a part of Black Girls Rock – and I’ve certainly earned an appearance or two (performer, presenter, co-host, etc – that’s another blog) and the same Howard and Jeffrey who have allegedly been dissing me for years or sending others around to do it on their behalf, put publicly creating a false desire of a reunion. There is a lot of sexism in the media and marginalization of black women in particular, that point is not lost on me. The BET Awards have a terrific line-up this year, congratulations to Lionel Ritchie on his Lifetime Achievement Award – no one seems to hold it against him that he never reunited with The Commodores – but he’s a man in this business.
It would have been cool had it worked out but it was not to be. I’m totally fine with that. Artist with longevity and recognized to be a pioneer/trendsetter -songwriter, producer, entrepreneur (Avitone, Avid, JodyWatleyBoutique, Jody Watley Music, Jody Watley MultiMedia Group, etc).
UPDATED: JULY 1, 2014 Lots of comments on my Facebook, under the thread. To those who say I should have just done Shalamar – Jeffrey and Howard could have certainly done the performance without me the past 4 and this years ceremony with Carolyn who they perform with in the UK which is more in line with they way they like to perform. I know what’s up – and made the right choice. I watched the BET Awards and enjoyed it. although I wish they’d found time to honor Bobby Womack somehow, or mention him by name in the “In Memoriam.” The segment with 90’s groups Troop, Color Me Badd, and Sylk for the “Throwback” Surprise Performance, which the fans loved. It did affirm my decision to not be a part of it. To my knowledge, none of those acts still record and make music but it was a good look ‘for them’. I’m guess personally not ready to be relegated the the “throwback” surprise part of the show – again unless it can have the same production and excitement as other artists in today’s commercial music scene. This was probably on my mind as well – my career as a recording artist, songwriter, etc. continues. Perhaps BET will sponsor a package tour for veteran acts who perform in the segment and keep the music alive beyond that moment – just a business thought. I enjoyed the Lionel Richie speech and watching him receive his “Lifetime Achievement Award.” Either you come on to do something new, or you wait to be acknowledged properly — although they did turn around and misspell the Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient’s name on screen as “Lionel Ritchie.” The beat goes on.