Jody Watley is simply FABULOUS! Throughout her career she has been a trendsetter that has never sacrificed her integrity. She taught many how to move on Soul Train, how to groove as a member of Shalamar and she showed fans how hard it is to find a friend or love as a solo artist. Jody Watley talked to us about being authentic, connecting with her fans, her favorite spot in L.A., the dance movement, how controversy plays a big role in music today and more.
My Creative Process … “Nightlife” is my new single that I started writing two years ago. I have been testing songs with a live audience at performances. This process has enabled me to make the songs better. The energy is just right, especially with that amazing blend of classic soul and an element of electronic. You are able to perfect the sound and know what the people like with this full length process. I have continued to evolve and grow as a writer and as an artist.
Authenticity… Throughout my career, I have maintained the ability to be authentic and to do what I want to do without selling my soul. It’s hard to hold on to yourself in this business. I always held on to my dream. I never told my parents I wanted to be famous. I always wanted to be a performer. I always wanted to sing, dance, write and design clothing.
Change In The Game… Probably the biggest difference today is the major labels and the radio stations are different. Back then they had private owned radio stations in which the DJ had the freedom to play what they wanted. I remember listening to Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” whole album. They didn’t have to play the same playlist with the same fifty songs like they do now. However, deregulation caused things to change in the mid 90’s. These big companies now own blocks of commercial radio stations so now they have eliminated many privately/family owned radio stations.
Major labels have been reduced to conglomerates. They don’t develop artists today… artists have to come ready. The music business now is like a television show … you don’t get a second season if you are not hitting your numbers. However, I really enjoy the fact that you can connect with your fans directly by using digital and social media.
Controversy… Controversy has always been a part of music, but it seems to be more of a driving force now. Some of those things have been a part of the music industry but it seems music; gossip and drama are all intertwined today. It really is about the music for me.
Elements of A Fabulous Night Out… Feeling fabulous, hair done, nail done and getting my drag on! I think people stand a little taller when they smell good and look good. Going out dancing or going out for cocktails is a recipe for a great night for me. It could also be having close friends at the house for a get together with amazing food.
Influencer & Trendsetter… Music is such an integral part of my life and has been since I was a little girl. I am fortunate to have longevity and still have my soul and integrity intact. I have also been able to set trends and be an influencer. Seeing how I have influenced people today makes me happy.
Family First… I have a son and daughter that are in college now. I was able to raise them in the midst of achieving my goals. I am proud I was able to send two good people into the world.
Things I Love… I love to hang with my friends.
Fan Love… I also enjoy connecting with my fans. My sound is strong, fun and glamorous … I am glad my fans have always supported me. There is a mutual respect I have for my fans. I’m very thankful for the fans [and] I hope the music always gives a slice of paradise. I never take my fans for granted no matter what regardless if they are ride or die or if they may be the ones that left and are coming back I still have love for them. I always want them to feel a good vibe when they hear my name and my music. It makes me happy because it makes them happy. Everything that I do is authentic.
“Everything”… When I perform “Everything” at my concerts, I always connect with someone. I always see someone crying … it is such a real song that evokes so much emotion. It touches me the same way it touches my fans. All of my songs touch people. I’ve done “Everything” acoustically and when it’s really broken down like that it really touches people. There doesn’t have to be a lot of screaming or yelling; I’m a singer that is really heart felt. My sound comes from what is in my heart.
Shalamar… Don Cornelius formed Shalamar. My role in the group was choreography and conceptualizing our style and look. However, I did co-write a couple songs. Being in Shalamar taught me that I had to set the tone when I became a solo artist. It helped me to understand how important it was to be in control of my project. When I went solo, I picked who I wanted to write with. I picked who would be my photographer. In Shalamar there were a lot of things that were out of our control. But that is how you learn.
Solange & Janelle Monae… My style is funky and all me. I make sure to put myself in everything. It’s just like when people say Solange reminds them of me. They also say Janelle Monae. There is something distinct that we all have. I see bites of myself in those artists.
Dance… Freestyle and waacking are my favorite dances. These dances are always different with everyone that does them. There is no right way to do them.
Food… I love Thai food … I’m a healthy eater.
Favorite Albums… Probably “Songs of the Key of Life”, “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross’ “The Boss”. The “Songs in the Key of Life” and “What’s Going On” both were not supported by the record company. When “Songs in the Key of Life” came out they played the whole album on the radio straight through.
“Believe in yourself. You may be the only one that believes in you.” – Jody Watley