Jody Watley. Classic Photo of The Day. Blues and Soul. UK

#TBT On The Cover of the UK Music Magazine Blues and Soul in 1989.

#TBT On The Cover of the UK Music Magazine Blues and Soul in 1989.

Celebrating 25 years of my second album. Most fans think of my solo debut as the breakthrough and it was – as well as being trendsetting in style and video. However my second album is the one that was really quietly the most pioneering and to me overshadowed. My infusion of high fashion, commercial ad campaigns and layouts – uncommon for any black artist at the time, and only by one other Madonna. ‘Larger Than Life’ ushered in a raised bar for other female artists that would follow.  The pioneering “Friends”  featuring Eric B & Rakim; the first to feature Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop 16 bar verses and crossing over R&B, Pop, Dance, Hip Hop – as well as a genre crossing video featuring transgender, drag queens, underground club culture, B-Boys and Girls, voguing and Jean Paul-Gaultier couture blended into a mix of high end and street chic as well as my highest charting ballad ‘Everything.” There was no press release to stir controversy and bring attention about the casting of the video – for me it wasn’t about that. Everyone in the video was real, friends of friends – not models or professionals. Tyrone Procter helped cast it. Eric B and Rakim called some of their friends. What I wanted to represent the types of clubs I liked dancing at full of of types of people united by the music and stepping out in style to get down on the dance floor. It was a real club scene in the west village on a hot summer afternoon in NYC. It went over the heads of a lot of people..my label didn’t know what to make of it, and weren’t happy with it – but let me do what I envisioned and I’m thankful.

I also found success overseas in the Japan, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom among others as well. It was always a challenge because I wasn’t the typical ‘urban black artist’ and was always in a struggle to shine on my own terms, remaining true to myself, wanting to have standards, authenticity to my artistry. 25 years later this is still true in everything I do whether on the commercial radar or not. It’s true no matter what your job or career is – be the best you.

“Real Love” which remains one of MTV’s Most Nominated Video’s and “Most of All” are featured on the Top 28 David Fincher video’s : HERE 

Photography: Steven Meisel

Makeup: Francois NARS

Hair: Oribe

Art Direction: Lynn Robb and Jody Watley

Produced by Andre Cymone

Executive Producer:  Jody Watley

#itsinthemusic #JodyWatley

Jody Watley Weekend Rewind. Celebration at Giorgio’s. Father’s Day. Pioneers.

It was a week of major losses in the entertainment world, actress civil rights activist Ruby Dee, unsung jazz great Little Jimmy Scott and radio and voice legend Casey Kasem. One of the biggest thrills when I became a solo artist and making a mark on Commercial Top 40 was to listen to Casey Kasem’s Countdown anticipating hearing Kasems announce my music – it always felt like a “you really have made it” moment. Not every artist got to hear their name amidst the American Top 40 Countdown – what an honor. Who can’t forget his voice on Scooby-Doo?! It was sad to hear his end of days turned so tragic, but he is in a peaceful place now as his children said in their statement to the media.  The music of Little Jimmy Scott always soothes, having discovered him from my Mom as I have done with a lot of jazz and my affinity for it. When recording “After You Who” for Red, Hot and Blue, his music was on my playlist to capture and evoke the essence of emotion and elegance as my foray into jazz. I join in the voices of what an inspiration and positive Ruby Dee was. These were lives well lived having touched so many of us in a positive way. I enjoyed this in depth article with video on Ruby Dee on OkayPlayer which was shared on my Facebook page: Here One of my favorites from Little Jimmy Scott: Casey Kasem New York Times: Here   Father’s Day posts on my Facebook were tributes to my father and brother John. Because our family lost possessions in storage when I was a little girl, there are any photo’s of he and I, however I do have a few cherished photo’s of him. As well, his memory lives on in my mind, memory and heart. He passed away in 1981 at 49 years young.

Before Tiger Woods there was my Dad John Watley Jr.

Before Tiger Woods there was my Dad John Watley Jr.  who was also a pioneer in golf. JET Magazine, 1952

© 2014 Jody Watley and big brother John Earl Watley III in 1981

© 2014 Jody Watley and big brother John Earl Watley III in 1981

My brother and I like most siblings have had our ups and downs – but we’re cool! I paid tribute in a surprise post for him on Saturday June 14, as he lives in Japan. The first anniversary of Giorgio’s was Saturday night – and it was truly a night to remember, complete with an impromptu performance by yours truly!  Read a fabulous article and check out the photo gallery on BlackBook: Here

© 2014 Tony Kanal of No Doubt and Jody Watley at Giorgio's Anniversary bash.

© 2014 Tony Kanal of No Doubt and Jody Watley at Giorgio’s Anniversary bash.

© 2014 Jody Watley at The Standard Hotel Pre-Disco Cocktail Party Photo Room in Vivienne Westwood World's End

© 2014 Jody Watley at The Standard Hotel Pre-Disco Cocktail Party Photo Room in Vivienne Westwood World’s End

 

Read More at WWD (Women’s Wear Daily): Here

Jody Watley Classic Photo of The Day. Celebrating Josephine Baker.

Jody Watley in Essence Magazine 1989

Jody Watley in Essence Magazine

 

I had the opportunity to see Josephine Baker when I was a little girl. My mother took my brother and I to see her at The Regal Theatre. Later, after becoming an artist myself, I nearly won the role to play her on the HBO movie “The Josephine Baker Story” ultimately the role went to actress Lynn Whitfield. Ms. Baker was obviously much older when I saw her, but I’ll never forget how mesmerizing she was and thinking back on it now – I also realize what a blessing it was to witness this icon while she was alive. I’ve read many books on her fascinating life – and what a life she lived through it all.  What a trailblazer.

 

Josephine_Baker_1950Josephine Baker; Josephine Baker (June 3, 1906 – April 12, 1975) was an American-born dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the “Black Pearl,” “Bronze Venus” and even the “Creole Goddess”. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine later became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.

Baker was the first African-American woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934) or to become a world-famous entertainer. Baker, who refused to perform for segregated audiences in America, is also noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. She was once offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King in 1968, following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Baker, however, turned down the offer. She was also known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre.

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Visit the Official Josephine Baker Website: HERE

 

 

Jody Watley. In Celebration of Don Cornelius

Jody Watley on Soul Train in 1988 with Don Cornelius.

Don Cornelius represents an incredible and unparalleled legacy in television, music and dance that will live on forever. Don and Soul Train shined a bright and historic light for our culture.  A true visionary, icon, legend and pioneer in every sense; his impact on black pride and aspiration in youth like myself was immeasurable during the peak of Soul Train in the 70’s. Don created, built and opened a door of inspiration, hope and opportunity for street dancers and artists to walk through – especially me as my career has always been intertwined with the show because it’s where I got my start. It’s incredible to know he started the show in Chicago with just $400.00 of his own money. What many don’t know is that my father and Don Cornelius knew each other as they were on the AM airwaves in Chicago at the same time when I was a baby; my father doing Gospel and Don Cornelius as a part-time news announcer.  I didn’t learn the connection until after I was a dancer on the show. In essence Don Cornelius was already in the fabric of my life before our paths would eventually line-up. Like most black kids in the 70’s Soul Train gave my friends and I something to look forward to on Saturday and to talk about at school on Monday.  If you wanted to know what was cool in style, the latest dances or to see new and established artists – you watched Soul Train and lived to see the Soul Train Line. As a dancer on the show, you lived to come down the line. Whether rocking afros or flamboyant fashions; it was with pride as it was framed in a positive light also evidenced in the ads tailored for the show. I thank God for Don.  Millions of us lived for Soul Train helping to make it the longest syndicated music television show in history. Soul Train was a vehicle of exposure for countless artists in music when all other doors remained (and to a degree remain) closed. If you made it on Soul Train, you’d arrived. As I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world as an artist – I’ve seen how far and wide the reach was. The last time I saw him was at The GRAMMY Museum in 2010 for the 40th Anniversary of Soul Train. I reminded him again how much I appreciated him and how thankful I was.

Jody Watley on Soul Train, 1976

I owe so much to Don and Soul Train. It was Don who hand-picked me for Shalamar when forming Soul Train Records and he remained supportive throughout my solo career.

Jody Watley at Soul Train Dance Studio, Los Angeles.

Ever the champion of dance, Don Cornelius opened The Soul Train Dance Studio in the late 70’s in Los Angeles on LaCienaga and selected me to be one of the instructors. From that, I had the honor to give private lessons to ‘The Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin, teaching her ‘The Robot’.

Subsequently, she asked me to be in her concert at the prestigious Dorothy Chandler Pavilion while she sang her classic ‘Natural Woman’. Aretha Frankin wanted me to represent the role ‘entertainer’. Each girl represented a different facet of being a woman; executive, mother, and so on. To say it was an honor to be onstage by personal invitation of the ‘Queen of Soul’ is an understatement.  It was another moment I’ll never forget thanks to Don Cornelius and Soul Train.

Jody Watley with Jeffrey Daniel, Soul Train Scramble Board

Original Shalamar, Soul Train Records Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley, Gary Mumford, 1977

My heart is truly broken to learn of Don’s death and passing. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends and those like me who loved and appreciated him for all that he represented and achieved as the first African-American to create, produce, host and OWN his own show. To be honest, as much as I admire Oprah Winfrey, I was disappointed that she never had Don on as a guest for her show, especially when the documentary for VH-1 “The Hippest Trip In America” aired. It would have been great and he deserved it.  Don Cornelius let us know that black is beautiful and sent us off wishing love, peace and soul.
In his departing, I’m wishing him the same.

Don Cornelius and Jody Watley. Soul Train Christmas Party 1978

Don Cornelius with Jody Watley “VH-1 Hippest Trip In America” Documentary Taping 2010

Don Cornelius, Jody Watley at The GRAMMY Museum Soul Train 40th Anniversary Celebration, October 2010

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Cheo Hodari Coker, Smokey Robinson, Jody Watley, Cuba Gooding Sr. Don Cornelius, Questlove of The Roots at Paley Television Center For Media, in 2009.

Talking about Don Cornelius with Don Lemon on CNN:

http://topics.cnn.com/topics/soul_train

NPR:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2012/02/01/146225653/why-don-cornelius-matters

Rest in Peace Don Cornelius.