OH COME ALL YE FABULOUS! Christmas Shines Brighter with Jody Watley

fornia from a young age. “I’ve lived here most of my life and it continues to inspire me,” the ever-radiant singer said. “It’s a cliché, but I love the light.” And it loves her back. The spotlight beckoned Watley to fame and funkiness as


a teen dancer onSoul Train and a member of the group Shalamar soon thereafter. But it was her self-titled 1987 debut solo album that rocketed Watley into the pantheon of pop divas. “Looking for a New Love” earned Jody a No. 1 hit and the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her career went straight to the top, yet remained gay at heart. “Through the decades, I’ve always been involved in various Pride events,” she

said. “It’s the most loyal part of my fan base.” Watley returns the fierce favor every day, in every way, and oh so gay. “It’s been authentic, mutual admiration that we have for each other and I’m very

appreciative of it because I think that they’re the best. … In ’95, I recorded the song Affection – ‘doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay, everybody needs to feel loved.’” Perhaps LadyBorn This Way Gaga owes Watley a call thanking her for the inspira-

tion. And while they’re on the Telephone, why not concoct a duet? After all, col- laboration is in Watley’s DNA, as her fans will soon learn at theColors of Christmas show. “It’s a very unique show,” she said. “I love coming to San Diego.” What can SoCal fans expect? The unexpected. “It will definitely be the only time you can hear and see me perform with Ben

Vereen, Oleta Adams and Peabo Bryson. We do duets together and then we all sing together as a collective,” Watley said.

t’s fitting for a star as enduringly luminous as Grammy-winner Jody Watley to have a signature motto to match. “I use the phrasewattage,” Watley beamed. “It’s in all of us. It’s the inner light that we have that is like our own personal sunshine, even when things feel dark and gray.” Though born in Chicago, Watley enjoyed the warm embrace of Cali-

But don’t worry. Watley also will make time to bust out her classic solo tunes: “I’m

looking forward to seeing the Jody fans represent. They’ll make it extra special.” As a final (and irresistible) invitation to anyone who is yet unconvinced that this

is a must-attend musical event, Watley added, “Get dressed, get festive, and come hear me singBeauty and the Beast with Peabo Bryson.” You had us at “festive.” Watley expressed continued kinship with the gays who join her joyous journey. “I think that’s another connection I share with the LGBTQ community because I

always feel like somewhat of an outsider but it never stops me from being myself, whether people get me or not,” she said. “I always try to own that, and I always encourage others to be who they are. You may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but that’s OK.” Acceptance isn’t just a buzzword for Watley; it’s a guiding force. “I always go

where love is and appreciate those who love you for who you are. And to those that don’t like you or don’t get it: So what? Keep it movin’!” Momentum is Watley’s mission. “I can see my influence with younger audiences

today and that is something that I’m very proud of. I don’t just make music.” Watley paused as her legacy spills out like manna for future artists to imbibe. “To be an influencer and someone who has emboldened others to get to the

next level and to be different and to change it up and to do the unexpected and not give a damn if people get it or not,” she preached. “That’s how we all win and how we’re all successful. That’s when you know that you’re walking your own distinct path and being fabulous about it!” Punctuating her call-to-awesomeness with Jody joie de vivre, Watley con- cluded, “I guess I’m authentic andStill a Thrill, still fabulous!” And you still be-still our hearts, Jody.

The Colors of Christmas tour visits McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert on December 13, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on December 14, and Balboa Theatre in San Diego on December 15.

December 2019 | RAGE monthly 39

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