Title: Jody Watley
Label: MCA Records
Release: February 23, 1987
Writers/Producers: Jody Watley, André Cymone, David Z, Bernard Edwards & Patrick Leonard
Singles: “Looking for a New Love,” “Still a Thrill,” “Don’t You Want Me,” “Some Kind of Lover” and “Most of All”
America saw Jody Watley before they ever heard her. In the late ‘70s, she and partner Jeffrey Daniel were the most popular dancers on TV’s Soul Train. Together they formed Shalamar. After a dozen chart hits Jody exited in 1984 and moved to England, where she modeled, wrote songs and did session singing; she was also one of two American acts (with Kool & The Gang) on the 1984 Band Aid single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”.
Jody Watley officially launched her solo career in 1986 upon returning to America with a plan and vision for the next phase of her life and career, eager to make a distinct mark free of label and group constraints. Signed by renowned music executive Jheryl Busby to MCA Records.
To record the album, she linked up with ex-Prince & The Revolution band-member Andre Cymone, they co-wrote some hot new songs (Jody co-wrote 6 out of 9) and brought on board another Revolution player, David Z., as producer and started working on her debut album. In addition to Patrick Leonard were also on board having been picked by Jody.
Her self-titled debut solo album was released in 1987, Watley’s breakout debut would garner her the prestigious Grammy Award for Best New Artist and nominations for four MTV Video Music Awards and three Soul Train Awards.
The debut album’s lead single, “Looking for a New Love” (US #2, #1 Dance, #1 R&B, UK #13), became a smash hit with catch-phrase “hasta la vista, baby“, and was certified gold – an influential slice of dance-pop with an unforgettable trend setting video.
The album also included more hits “Still a Thrill” (#56, #3 R&B #1 Dance), the video was the first time a major pop star showcased waacking, the underground freestyle dance. Followed by “Don’t You Want Me” (#6 #1 Dance #3 R&B); “Some Kind of Lover” (US #10 #1 Dance #3 R&B); and “Most of All” (#60, #11 R&B). Her debut album featured one duet, with the late George Michael entitled “Learn To Say No“, produced by Bernard Edwards.
Jody stated this about the release, for her label biography,
“I’m proud of what we came up with. I wanted to make a record that reflected me and didn’t do things just ‘because.’ There are no ballads on the album because I love to dance, and the up-tempo things kept out weighing the importance of the obligatory ballad. I wanted my first album to be as fresh as possible.”
Her ingenious, stylish videos raised the bar not just for dance music, but for women in the business-especially women of color. Behind the style there was substance – an experienced songwriter and producer who never settled, never stopped growing and trying to break new ground.
The album peaked in the top 10 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart, and #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B Albums Chart, and sold two million copies in the US, and a total of four million copies worldwide.
Jody‘s desire for the new and mildly off-the-wall was not surprising when you consider her uniquely varied introduction to show business. She was born in Chicago to a singing/piano-playing mother and a traveling Evangelist father whose radio shows made him popular among a show biz crowd that included soul giants Sam Cooke, Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex and Jackie Wilson, who was also Jody‘s godfather. It was during one of Wilson‘s performances that at age 8, Jody made illustrious stage debut. “I was standing in the wings with my parents watching the show, and he just came and pulled me out there, and we danced together.”
We honored Jody in 2014 with our UB Legendary Honors recognition and spoke with her and asked, what was the first thing that comes to mind when we mention her debut album? “Take that bi*ches! And I say that because nobody expected it. It was just the smack down of the most fulfilling order for me.”
Jody has had 6 Top Ten Pop Hits, 15 Top 40 R&B Hits, 13 Dance Hits and 9 #1 Singles.
Happy 30th Jody Watley!
@UrbanBridgez Thank you so much ???
— Jody Watley (@jodywatley) February 24, 2017
The Jody Watley Debut Era