Jody Watley Speaks to UrbanBridgez.com About Shalamar and “Unsung”
UrbanBridgez.com: Shalamar made such an impact in R&B music history in my opinion, what is your best memory of being apart of that group and recording some of the hits you all recorded together?
Jody Watley: Good question (laughs). I don’t actually have a favorite memory. What stands out is the first time I went over seas and the first trip was to Australia. I remember being in awe of being out the USA. Shalamar was, when I look back at it. It was work, work, work. I don’t look at it as a fun era (laughs). We were work horses for that company. The more I’m talking, I liked the tour packages we did. Back then, they had packages like us and The Gap Band, Rick James, Mary Jane Girls, or it was us Lakeside, Whispers, Evelyn Champagne King and Atlantic Starr. That’s something I actually really cherish. The main thing is it was all live! Everybody was dancing and singing, nobody was lip syncing (laughs). You had to really bring it, because the act before you would bring it and the act after you. So you had to make your mark. Funny thing was, well what was valuable for me as a solo performer. For instance, say that the act before you.. I remember Lakeside who did “Fantastic Voyage” which was really huge. Such a great band who was together forever. We came on before them and if we did a chant that got the crowd fired up or if we had fans light a match when we did a slow song, that was a big thing back then (laughs). So if we did it and they thought it was hot, they would take it the next night and we couldn’t do it. What it did was make you creative and spontaneous to work the crowd. That sort of thing doesn’t really exist anymore.
UrbanBridgez.com: You’ve finally decided to speak on your departure from the group in the upcoming episode of Unsung on TV One. What else can fans expect to learn from watching that episode about your time in the group, without giving too much away.
Jody Watley: Well I’m not sure what they’re gonna keep, so I don’t know (laughs). I tried to be as candent as I could in the time constraints I had. My part of the story was from the girls perspective. In an environment that was incredibly chauvinistic, from the head of Solar (label) Dick Griffey to all of the guys that would be in the group. Always trying to hold my own, as a teenager starting out, growing into a young girl. I talk about the challenges of that. Like a lot of people are like that video “A Night To Remember,” I loved that. For me, I hated that video! I didn’t like the end. I remember crying, because I didn’t want to be bouncing on the bed with two guys. That was lame, it sends the wrong message but I had to do it anyway. Eventually which I talk about on Unsung, Once you decide for yourself, how you see things being rolled out or people are trying to make you feel like you’re not valuable to a situation. In my case, not so valuable to the group, when I knew I was. But just not buying into that, I talk about owning who you are and not letting people rob your spirit. Or make you feel you’re not equal to the next guy, even if you’re a woman. Just not to fall into that. In the end it was very uplifting. When I quit the group, it wasn’t to go solo, it was to have a peace of mind ultimately. The beautiful thing is when I left the group I decided I was still going to pursue my dream. I always wanted to be a singer since I was 4. I’ve never looked back and I encourage everybody to never give up and always believe in yourself. You, me and the people that will read the blogs, everybody can relate to that. Whether you’re in school and people say you’re not all that (laughs). If you’re smart & a book warm and them calling you teachers pet. I went through all those things in school and being chased home from school (laughs). Because people have their own thing but really fighting through it and never giving up. Ultimately learning from everything that happens to you in life. Even in the most negative situations you should be able to take something positive from it and move forward. Jody Watley is always going to be about that. Fearlessness, growth, and really just spreading that. My voice in the show is really talking about that aspect of it. I commend TV One for doing something with their programming. I know alot of people are very disappointed in BET’s programming, it’s liked a missed opportunity. That was another reason I sat down for the interview, once I saw the quality and how they try to do it.
UrbanBridgez.com: I love Unsung! (laughs)
Jody Watley: Yeah me too, alot of people say well they’re all sad (laughs). I’m like well my portion of the show isn’t sad, there was no tragedy that came from Shalamar, it just wasn’t built to last. So I’m interested to see it. For instance I’d like to see how Gerald Brown who was the second lead singer, the voice of “Take That To The Bank.” Once he was taken out of the group, I never heard from him again. So I wonder if they interviewed him, I would like to know how he is? He was an alright guy, I mean he had his ego things also, but it was cool. As a fan of the show, I’m curious to see what will make the cut from what I said and will Gerald and some other people be interviewed.
Complete UrbanBridgez Jody Watley Interview!