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Jody Watley Brings Back Shalamar... Her Way!

Shalamar is coming back with new members and a fresh new sound.
Jody Watley Brings Back Shalamar… Her Way!
Albert Sanchez

Fans fortunate enough to have caught Jody Watley’s 2013 Essence Festival Super Lounge set know one of that high-octane evening’s highlights was the Grammy Award winner’s surprise medley of Shalamar hits including “Take That to the Bank,” “I Owe You One,” “The Second Time Around,” and “A Night to Remember.” Watley, who left the group in 1982, went on to have a mega-successful solo career as a singer, songwriter, and style icon.

The Chicago native, who recently released the hit EP Paradise, has resurrected SHALAMAR® with new members Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy. Jody Watley and SHALAMAR® are currently on the road, and will headline Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing on June 25, in New York City. The ageless diva recently took a break to share with ESSENCE.com what’s in store for the latest incarnation of a beloved group.

What’s different about the new SHALAMAR®?
 Just about everything. I believe in the power of now and living in the moment. I’m not one for living in the past. While recording Paradise, I was inspired by what I consider one of the greatest eras of music: the 70’s and early 80’s. Before releasing Paradise I included a few Shalamar songs in my set with my own touch. With the new group I’m not trying to be nostalgic. I’m not trying to recapture 1982. It’s very of the moment.

You brought back Gerald Brown of the early incarnation of Shalamar for your Essence Festival spectactular.
He said I brought him back from the dead! It was great to work with him. He is truly humble and talented.

Who are the new members of SHALAMAR®?
Nate Allen Smith, who’s a young talent out of Ohio, and Rosero McCoy, a renowned choreographer who has worked with many artists, including me. Nate is like Maxwell. He can sing and he’s sexy. Rosero  is an amazing performer. And both of these men are fine!

How has the new trio been received?
We did a preview at B.B. Kings (in New York City) that was incredible. We’re now on the road and the response has been phenomenal. Of course, there have been some who are not happy, and resent what’s happening. This was the same as when I first went solo. Some people are quite threatened by my unexpected ballsy move to rebrand the group. But this is a business. I understand if I were a man it would be called shrewd and savvy so I continue to carry on understanding that one has to be willing to go out on a limb in life and business. I’ve never shied away from challenges which is part of my charm, no?

Yes! When are you writing your memoirs?
I haven’t been writing as much as I should, but I want to write my life story in a way that inspires and empowers people.

Any final thoughts?
These are challenging times, but we have to continue to remain strong, positive, and to take care of each other. No matter what’s going on, we should take some time to sashay and twirl!

For information on Live with Jody Watley featuring SHALAMAR® ay Midsummer Night Swing 2015 at Lincoln Center, visit http://midsummernightswing.org.