Jody Watley Is Definitely in Tune

You know her music, at its height of popularity in the 1980s—heck, you probably still dance to it or sing to it on the commute to work. You know her voice. Now get to know the other side of Grammy winner Jody Watley

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
jody watley image
Photograph: Lauren Watley for Jody Watley Music Inc.

More: Do you feel the music of today is different from when you started out in the business?
Jody Watley: When I listen to the radio I sometimes say to myself, “Did they really just say that?” For me, it was great to come through an era of music that was fun and wholesome.

More: You haven’t hung up the microphone as of yet?
JW: Yes, I have been working on some new material for the past four years. The title of my next album will be "Chameleon," and the first single, called “Night Life,” will be out after the first of the year. However, it is hard to get airplay when you are competing with artists like Nicki Minaj and Justin Beiber. Even Madonna had a difficult time after she put out her last album.

More: Has that put a damper on your attitude?
JW: No. I am not making music to compete with these teenage artists. That is not me, nor what I aspire to be. The only person I want to be is myself, and that is what I am focusing on. I am also a songwriter, and those tunes that I put out are stories about me and what I have gone through. Even my hit single “Looking for a New Love” came after a breakup.

More: You had friends and men break your heart?
JW: That’s life [laughs]. I am no different from anyone else.

More: Lately, you have been under the radar.
JW: When everything happened for me I was already a mom, and that was a job I took extremely seriously. I wanted to be a responsible parent, and taking care of my children was the number-one priority. I stayed out of the gossip magazines because I refused to let my life spiral out of control, especially after seeing so many famous people meet a tragic end.

More: How do you not get caught up in the fame?
JW: This business is very superficial. You can’t get caught up in it. You just can’t. You have to make the right choices in life if you want to succeed and have longevity.

More: Have you ever received any personal requests from your friends or your kid’s friends who asked you to sing at their party?
JW: I have done some private events, and a wedding in China for two executives who were fans of mine. Although those were paid assignments, I was really into doing them, because if I have the ability to make a bride and groom even happier on their big day, that is so thrilling for me.

More: A big theme here at More is reinvention. Your last album was called The Makeover. Am I seeing a connection?
JW: I have always been reinventing myself. My first album was trendy, funky, pop and dance music. My second album was more high-fashion themed, my third album was a complete about-face because it was a soul-like album, and my fourth album was all introspective and relationship-based. I was going through a divorce at the time, so my music reflected that period in my life. As for my image, it has always been changing and evolving, along with my music. 

More: Is it safe to say you are all about reinventing your music and style? 
JW: I like to challenge myself and keep it interesting. I like evolution. It is part of my journey as an artist.

More: Speaking of artists, if you could do a duet with another singer, past or present, who would it be?
JW: I have a few that come to mind. Maxwell is definitely one. He is so cool and has great style. I have always wanted to work with Sting because I have a huge crush on him. If I am in my classic mood I would love to team up with Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra. Among the artists of today, I would love to work with Rihanna. She and I could be really hot together because her music is where it's at.

More: You mention your divorce. Was ending your marriage difficult?
JW: When I went through my divorce I felt bad about myself, because, like everyone, I wanted the fairy tale and I didn’t get it. It was such a letdown and disappointment, but because I had children I had to pick myself up for their sake.

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