30 January 1959 (age 59)
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
She’s an innovative music maker, a style-forging pioneer: since the 80s, Grammy-winning multi-talented Jody Watley has led the way as an entrepreneur working in the independent music world as one of the few already-established female best-selling artists to produce, create and own her recordings.
With an amazing 32 Top Ten Singles and 13 No. 1 Singles in the R&B, pop and dance music genres over the past three decades – including such classics as “Looking For A New Love,” “Don’t You Want Me” and her groundbreaking collaboration with Eric B and Rakim on “Friends” – Jody has consistently broken new ground in music, video and fashion: her 2006 album “The Makeover” benefited from an exclusive collaboration with the Virgin Megastore Music Chain that debuted as the No 1 nationwide store best-seller and No. 3 track on iTunes Electronic Chart.
In 1996, Jody took a slight detour from the journey as an indie artist with a brief tenure with Atlantic Records (resulting in the Top 40 dance/R&B hit “Off The Hook”) but returned in 2000 with “Saturday Night Experience,” an experimental electronic album released only in Japan (where Jody has maintained a constant presence going back to the early ‘80s).
After licensing some of her music to renowned tastemaking company Giant Step and working with dance music writer/producers Masters At Work, Jody released “Midnight Lounge” also in Japan; making it available for U.S. release through Shanachie Records, with the key dance cut “Photographs” released in the U.K. on uber cool indie label Chillifunk. Her original ingenious, stylish videos raised the standards for female artists around the globe after she launched her solo career in 1986 following six years as an original member of chartmaking trio Shalamar.
Known for combining beauty and style as integral aspects of her career as a recording artist and dynamic live performer, Jody’s list of accomplishments and achievements is indeed impressive: she's received Billboard Magazine's 'Lifetime Achievement Award', nominations for the MTV VMA's, NAACP Image Awards and American Music Awards. She’s been featured in VOGUE, ITALIAN VOGUE (including the Historic "The Black Issue), Harper's Bazaar, Rolling Stone, Essence and has been named one of America's Most Beautiful People by People Magazine. The first black woman to appear on a Japanese fashion magazine cover (specifically Japan's most elite, SPUR), Jody has performed by special invitation at The White House, participated in Bob Geldof's historic "Do They Know It's Christmas" recording session and video, Force of Nature’s Tsunami Relief in Malaysia as well as working on one of the first global HIV/AIDS awareness projects, “Red Hot and Blue” for which she performed the Cole Porter jazz classic “After You Who”. Watley continues to work with charities promoting tolerance, as well as prevention and care for those living with HIV and AIDS.
Beyonce Knowles and Destiny's Child recorded one of Jody’s compositions “Sweet Sixteen” on their best-selling “Writings on The Wall' album and Jody’s special guest appearances have included work with Roy Ayers, 4Hero, Rahsaan Patterson and George Michael. An update of the Shalamar hit “For The Lover In You” by Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds featured Jody and LL Cool J.
She continues to explore new ways to share her music, and acknowledges fellow modern-day entrepreneurs such as Russell Simmons, Sean (Puff Daddy) Combs and Jay-Z (“for their work as an artists, label executives, clothing ventures marketing savvy and philanthropy”).
Entrepreneur, label owner, recording artist, producer, songwriter and performer, she celebrates three decades in the world of entertainment carving her own destiny.
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