Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be 50 fantastic first solo albums recorded by artists who departed—or simply took a temporary hiatus from—their respective groups, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
JODY WATLEY | Jody Watley
Selected by Quentin Harrison
It was all about identity and authenticity for Jody Watley in 1987. The vocalist/songwriter/ dancer knew what she wanted musically and she went for it. Jody Watley, a Grammy award winning collection of cool funk (“Looking for a New Love,” “Do It to the Beat”) and black pop (“Some Kind of Lover,” “Most of All”), reached a variety of audiences and does so even today.
As I discussed at length in my retrospective on her eponymous project earlier in 2017, Watley was extremely hands on with the songwriting and production for the LP, key to its lasting appeal. Indeed, Watley continued to find her voice as a lyricist and wrote the majority of the album herself alongside Minneapolis wunderkinds André Cymone and David Rivkin. Watley remarked on the album and its central charm in my accompanying interview with her, “Well, finding ways to pair the two, dance and R&B, together has always been intriguing to me. I continue to want, and try, to do that. I like a good groove, I like experimental things and I like finding ways to make it warm and bring an organic quality to it. Dance music speaks to me.”
Perhaps her debut’s biggest contribution to Watley’s legacy was that it set her up to keep crafting some of the most engaging R&B albums of all time afterward.