Those of us who grew up watching Soul Train remember her; how she and her dance partner, Jeffrey Daniel, became a very popular twosome. We weren’t the only ones who noticed how popular they were: Soul Train creator Don Cornelius noticed too, picking the two of them to team up with singer Gary Mumford to form a group called Shalamar. Mumford didn’t hang around long (and neither did his replacement Gerald Brown), but Howard Hewett did; and the three of them became one of R&B music’s most popular acts through the first few years of the 1980s. Like many groups though, conflict broke the members apart, as both Daniel and today’s artist split somewhat acrimoniously. A few years later, that dancer and former Shalamar member would become one of the hottest acts in R&B and pop music.
If you haven’t already guessed through that long tease, I’m writing about Jody Watley. Her debut single, “Looking For A New Love,” is today’s 80’s Mania Monday song.
What I didn’t know was that after she left Shalamar in 1984, Watley moved to England. I did know that she was credited with singing on Band-Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” though I wasn’t sure how she got on that track. I also did not know that she released a couple songs under the name Jody that were only released in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. After a few years overseas, Watley returned to the U.S. and signed a music deal with MCA Records.
Her first single from her debut album Jody Watley, “Looking For A New Love” was a hit right out of the box. It climbed to #1 on the R&B chart, and #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was a big hit as well, charting 5 singles on the R&B chart, of which four made the top three, and three of those singles made the top 10 on the pop chart also. At the 1988 Grammy Awards, Watley was awarded Best New Artist. Not sure how she qualified, after having hits with Shalamar for years, but I guess it was because she was a solo act who hadn’t released material in the United States under her own name.
Though the top ten hits have ceased, Watley is still popular on the dance charts, and last year gained the rights to the Shalamar name. She has formed a new group called Shalamar Reloaded, with Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy. Rather than focus on her solo efforts, she is now working on getting Shalamar Reloaded off the ground with new music; not relying on the old Shalamar hits of old.
I hope you enjoy the stylish, sexy Ms. Watley on her first solo hit, and as always thanks for reading and listening.