Are you looking for a new love or just looking for Jody Wately? Then look no further…
Jody Wately (b.1959) has been in ‘showbiz’ since she was a young girl, mostly thanks to her godfather, Jackie Wilson, he of “Reet Petite” fame. Jody herself was one of the founding members of the group, Shalamar, before going it alone in the late 1980’s. Jody, along with Jeffrey Daniel (b.1955), were the mainstays of Shalamar since they formed for the TV show, Soul Train, in 1977. The lineup changed as they years went by, but the big hits “The Second Time Around” (1979), “A Night To Remember” and “I Can Make You Feel Good” (both 1982), were with Daniel, with the group scoring top ten hits on both sides of the Atlantic as well as Platinum certified albums in both the US and the UK.
Jody left, as did Jeffery Daniel, in 1983, while the name Shalamar itself limped on into the beginning of the 1990’s with only one notable success in that time, “Dancing In The Sheets”, in 1984, from the film ‘Footloose’. The song made No.17 in America and No.41 in the UK. Jody came to the UK in 1984 and was one of the artists to offer their vocals to the phenomenal Christmas charity hit, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?“, as part of Band Aid. She also worked with Musical Youth, post “Pass The Dutchie” and recorded two tracks under the name of ‘Jody’ that were not so successful. Watley made her solo debut for real at the beginning of 1987. Now signed to MCA Records, she released “Looking For A New Love”, which she herself co-wrote. The song went to No.2 at home and No.13 in the UK, while it topped both the US Dance and R&B chart and the Canadian singles chart.
It marked a great start to Jody’s solos career and helped launch her self-titled debut album soon after, which would make the top ten in The States and sell over a million copies. Jody repeated this success with two more top ten hits, “Don’t You Want Me?” and “Some Kind Of Lover”, both of which topped the Dance chart and made No.3 on the R&B chart, although these were much less successful internationally. This was partially corrected come her follow up, “Larger Than Life”, in 1989, which kicked off with the single, “Real Love”. The song equaled “Looking For A New Love” in getting as far as No.2 in America as well as topping both the Dance and the R&B chart! it was a mid-charter elsewhere and made No.31 in the UK. The album would go on gain Gold certification at home for sales of 500,000 copies but achieve a much higher chart placing in the UK (No.21) than her debut long player.
“Larger Than Life” produced a second UK top 40 hit with “Friends” (No.21), which Jody joined forces with rap duo Eric B and Rakim. The song was a top ten success in America, as was its follow up, “Everything” (No.4), which brought a seventh top three hit on the R&B chart (only “Most Of All” (1988) missed the top ten). 1989 brought further acclaim as her video for “Real Love” was nominated for SEVEN awards at the MTV Music Video Awards that year. A record that stood for seven years until Michael and Janet Jackson’s “Scream”. Jody’s next album, “Affairs Of The Heart”, was much more harder-edged and saw release at rhe end of 1991. Sales, however, were not as enthusiastic and while the lead single, “I’m The One You Need”, reached the top twenty, the album and the one further single released (“It All Begins With You”) flopped. Jody took on New Jack Swing with her next album, “Intimacy”, in 1994, which saw her return to the UK chart for the first time in five years with “When A Man Loves A Woman” (not the Percy Sledge classic).
“When A Man Loves A Woman” was a US Dance chart hit (No.8) as was the lead single from the project, “Your Love Keeps Working On Me” (No.2), although commercial success for both singles and the album were non-existent. Watley confessed she would rather write and record music she wanted to rather than achieve big sales and chart positions. Her 1995 album, “Affection”, passed by unnoiticed and certainly without any affection at all as she released her “Greatest Hits” album the following year. Jody took a breather from music, briefly mid-90’s to appear as Rizzo in the Broadway production of Grease in 1996 and before the year was out, she had reunited with her Shalamar band mates Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewett for the song, “This Is For The Lover In You”, by Babyface. It peaked at No.6 in the US and No.12 in the UK, her highest chart positions in both countries for some time. Jody’s music from then on focused in clubs and as a respected dance artist with the lead single from her ‘comeback’ album, “Flower” (1997), “Off The Hook”, topping the US dance chart, the first of many to do so in the coming years.
“Off The Hook” was also the last time that Jody would appear on the commercial sales chart on both sides of the Atlantic as well as globally. The second single, “If I’m Not In Love”, from “Flower” would peak at No.2 on the Dance chart. Her 2001 Dance/Soul album “Midnight Lounge” was both a critical success and a club/dance chart success. She returned to the top of the US dance chart in 2005 with a new mix of “Looking For A New Love”, the second time the song had achieved this position and eighteen years since the first time! Jody recorded a covers album, “The Makeover”, in 2006 that included the singles, “I Want Your Love” (formally a hit for Chic) which returned Jody to the top of the Dance chart and her version of Madonna‘s “Borderline”, which went to No.2. “I Want Your Love” also found success among DJ’s and clubbers in the UK, topping the Dance chart there, her first for more than twenty years! Her most recent work was an EP, “Paradise”, which was released in 2013 along with the single, “Nightlife”. Both saw Watley return to her Disco/Shalamar roots and were well received.
In 2014, after a much publicised legal battle, Jody Watley became the registered owner of the name ‘Shalamar’ and made it known that any such performances by any artist would have to be known as ‘Shalamar Reloaded’, to differentiate between any reunion of the original band members. With her approval, the ‘new Shalamar’ went on a full tour of America that Summer and took in Europe towards the end of 2015. They recorded and released a new single, “SlowDance” through Jody’s own record label, Avitone. ‘Shalamar Reloaded’ have since become staples of 70’s and 80’s reload festivals across the world, with Jody as the manager and promoter and in 2016, the new group recorded a second new song, “O.R.I.G.I.N.A.L.”. In 2017, ‘Shalamar Reloaded’ were retitled ‘SRL’. To date, there have been no plans for any new music or a comeback from Jody herself, although she is very prolific on Instagram! It’s probably the best way to keep in touch with her and see what she has up her sleeve on a daily basis!
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