A GoPride Interview

Jody Watley

Jody Watley interview with ChicagoPride.com

Sun. August 2, 2009  by Windy City Times

Jody Watley

jody watley

Real love for Jody Watley

by Tony Peregrin

Ask Grammy Award winner Jody Watley to describe herself and she will tell you the following: “I am a singer. A writer. A performer. A producer and an entrepreneur. I’m also a mother, daughter, sister, auntie, and one-time wife. I’m a friend. I’m a chameleon, known for musical change and great style. I am continuing to evolve.” Watley, whose 10th studio album, Chameleon, will be out sometime next year, has consistently broken new ground in music, video and fashion with an amazing 32 Top 10 singles and 13 Number One singles across the genres of R&B, pop and dance music—a chameleon, indeed. Running a tad late for our interview (dropping her son off at basketball practice), Watley pulled over by the side of a Los Angeles highway to discuss her new album, her secret to aging gracefully (olives and red wine!) and her upcoming performance at Northalsted Market Days. (Event Details)

WCT: (Windy City Times) Explain the love affair between gay men and Jody Watley!

JW: (Jody Watley) For me, it goes back to when I was a dancer on Soul Train. I learned a lot of my attitude and my ability to own the spotlight and the moment from the gay men working on that show. Soul Train had a strong gay community, and I always say I learned from the best! It wasn’t like learning a dance routine, you know, “Okay … 5-6-7-8.” I just observed them and tried to pick up their confidence and how they just ... ruled, and I took it and made it my own. In my solo career, I have been very aware of my gay fans and it is one of the reasons why I usually do Pride events. And it’s not something I do for marketing purposes, either. I’ve seen artists try to do that but, for me, it’s just always been part of my life. Growing up, my mom had two gay best friends. I didn’t know it until I was much older, but I loved them from childhood on. Gay, straight—everybody needs to feel loved.

WCT: What can fans expect from your performance at this year’s Northalsted Market Days?

JW: I’m calling the performance an odyssey—an odyssey of classic hits and modern grooves that really work beautifully together. It’s an opportunity for me to expose the fans who may not be familiar with my more current work and bring them up to date, as well as give them stuff I know they are waiting to hear! I believe this is my first full concert in Chicago since I played the Riviera Theatre in 1989. It’s been a long time—too long. [Laughs]

WCT: Speaking of Chicago, you were born here and you went to school here for a short while. What are some of your favorite memories of The Windy City?

JW: When President Obama mentioned Harold’s Chicken Shack, it brought back a lot of memories for me. [Laughs] I remember that place from when I was kid! When I come to Chicago for the show in Aug., I’ll have some extra time and I am going to drive around the South Side—with a video camera—and visit some of the places I lived. I’ve never had the opportunity to do that. Just the other day I asked my mom for the exact address of where we lived when I was six or seven so that I could drive by and see it.

WCT: Do you get recognized on the street?

JW: With these cheekbones?! Actually, it’s not as crazy as it used to be. I get the “Has anyone ever told you look like Jody Watley?” thing a lot. I think a lot of famous people get that. Even in dark sunglasses, though, people will recognize me because of my cheekbones and my smile.

WCT: When Windy City Times last spoke with you, [WCT Managing Editor Andrew Davis] asked you about the concept behind The Makeover album and you had a fabulous response: “Throughout the years, I’ve always tried to stay outside of the boxes that people have sometimes tried to put me in. That journey is not always an easy one, but it’s a rewarding one. The people who get what I do really appreciate that I’m an artist who tries to put out quality work and not anything that’s ... un-Jody. [Laughs] It’s Jody Watley 2006—and better than ever.” So I am going to ask you now, in 2009, how would you describe the concept and the vibe for Chameleon, your 10th studio album, scheduled to drop next year?

JW: I said all of that?! [Laughs] Amen to all that!! I mean, I probably would say the same thing about this new album. I always try to do quality work; I try to continue to have fun with it, and to have something to say. Chameleon is a continuation of that philosophy. The album is going to feel more uptempo than The Makeover, but no less warm, no less soulful. I am really happy with the way it is coming along. Being an artist is not about looking to see how you are going to make your next hit. You want to do something that touches people and that you can be proud of.

Jody Watley headlines Horseshoe Casino VIP Stage at Addison Entertainment at the Northalsted Market Days, Sunday, August 2 at 8:30 p.m.

(Event Details)

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Interviewed by Windy City Times