Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Jody Watley’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of her with us in the comments below!
Born: January 30, 1959
Biography: Grammy Award-winning vocalist, producer, and songwriter Jody Watley made a name for herself with the dance-soul trio Shalamar before she embarked on a solo career that brought her several Top Ten pop hits and a reputation as "The Queen of Cool." Watley was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 30, 1959, but grew up in Los Angeles. Her teenage gig as a dancer on Soul Train led to a meeting with the hit TV show's booking agent, Dick Griffey. Along with Jeffrey Daniel and Gerald Brown, Watley was recruited by Griffey to join Shalamar in 1977. A string of poppy dance-soul hits featuring Watley began in 1978 with "Take That to the Bank." Watley left the group in 1982 and moved to London, where she recorded some demos with the Art of Noise. It was during this time that she was invited by Bob Geldof to appear on the 1986 charity single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid. She returned to the U.S. late in the year and began working on her solo debut.
Recorded with hit producers Bernard Edwards, David Z., Patrick Leonard, and André Cymone -- who eventually became her husband until 1995, when the two divorced -- Watley's 1987 self-titled debut became an instant smash courtesy of its lead single, "Looking for a New Love," and its catch phrase, "hasta la vista, baby." Similarly stylish videos accompanied the hits "Don't You Want Me" and "Still a Thrill" and helped earn her the award for Best New Artist at the 30th annual Grammy Awards. Two years later, she returned with the ambitious album Larger Than Life and the number two pop hit "Real Love." The album's second single, "Friends," was an early R&B/hip-hop blend with Eric B. & Rakim making an appearance. The remix album You Wanna Dance with Me? surfaced a year later, as did the million-selling exercise video Dance to Fitness. Fashion spreads and an appearance in a Gap ad campaign were other non-musical activities and helped earn her a spot on People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People list. [Read more via AllMusic here]
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