Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Retro Active Appreciation: Renaissance Woman ––Jody Watley

Jody Watley... singer, songwriter, dancer & producer. She has won countless awards for her music and videos, was a pop culture fixture in the late 1980's and early 1990's and went on to start her own record company. She is also a style icon, a rather under-appreciated one at that.

She started out as a dancer on Soul Train at 14, quickly becaming one of the trend setters at that time. Look at this video and you'll see why I think Jody Watley happens to be one of the most stylish women of all time. She never makes a single mistake when it comes to putting herself together. She epitomizes the word 'fierce' with her bold, strong and feminine looks – while always managing to have a sense of the adorable with her playfulness.

And in this video, you can see how effortlessly talented she was in her freestyle dancing days, whether choreographed or calculated, her style and moves (along with her friend Jeffrey Daniel) looked fresh then and still do today.
Then came the days of Shalamar, a band consisting of her fellow dancer and friend, Jeffrey Daniel. In the first video that follows, you'll be utterly amazed, as I was, to see that The Moonwalk was performed by Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar in 1982... before Michael Jackson made it his signature move - in 1983!! That blows my mind. And I can't stop staring at Ms. Watley's adorable outfit here. Makes me long for my grade school/junior high school days when I truly played with clothes and experimented with my outfits (it's also fun recalling that I was voted 'best dressed' for several years, which was never a surprise since I was fearless and knew how to play with clothes.)
As a young girl in Portland, Oregon, I was rarely enthralled enough by pop stars to dress like them. But in 1987, Ms. Watley won me over. She had a confident style. There was something edgy but sophisticated about her. I'd wear big hoop earrings, skirts with leggings, sling back flats & accessories, courtesy of Brass Plum, to emulate that. Her lyrics, song beats and street style seemed empowering. I was too young to grasp why anyone would be "Looking For A New Love" but her "hasta la vista... baby" delivery sounded as cool as it gets. That song became an inspirational beat in my mind if it was ever time to move on from a relationship. "My love was true, still you threw it all away... (Now other guys will have me they'll appreciate my love, tell me, how does it feel?)"

In this clip, she's seen performing again with Shalamar - and later accepting her first Grammy award as a solo artist.
Long before the style and lyric challenged antics of pop stars today, this was Jody Watley... the real, authentic deal:

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