Jody Watley & Shalamar

‘Bring It’ at Lincoln Center

The beautiful, talented, vivacious superstar, recording artist and dancer Jody Watley returns to New York City on June 25 at Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing, an outdoor event, along with the devastatingly adorable Shalamar Reloaded. This concert promises to be the concert to see this summer.

Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing is celebrating its 27 season. It combines dance lessons, live music and DJs all taking place at the outdoor ballroom in Damrosch Park.

I was once again privileged to speak with Ms. Watley, probably the kindest, most sincere artist I have ever met and had a conversation with. Joining her was Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy, the very emotional and animated Shalamar.

It is so much fun having all of you on the line at once: Jody, Nate and Rosero.
JW: This is our first group phoner.

Well then, let’s have some fun with it. Let’s talk about Midsummer Night Swing on June 25 at Lincoln Center.
JW: At Lincoln Center, which is a huge deal.

It’s a great event because there’s dance. They have the dance things going on before the concert. The whole series is great. It is summertime in New York. It will be hot, it will be humid, and we’ll all be sweaty.
NS: The way it should be.

Exactly. Can you tell us some of the songs you plan to perform?
JW: Well, we don’t want to give it all away, but we will definitely sing the classics. You’ll hear “Take That to the Bank” and “Second Time Around” and more. We put an all-new spin on all of them. Rosero has come up with some wonderful choreography, so we’re twirling around the stage and singing live, which is always a good combination, and Nate brings his own flavor to the male leads on the songs. We performed in February at BB King’s, and it was sold out.  Everyone loved it, but we’ve gotten even better since then. We’ve made some tweaks and adjustments, and we will continue to do so. Anyone want to add anything to that?
NS: Everything’s been really well received, and we’re having a ball. The main thing is we’re having fun on stage. I think that filters out into the audience. They feel that we’re having a good time, and they start having a good time.
RM: And love the fact that Jody spoke of the fact that we add our own twist and our own vibe to it, because we are definitely a group that is yelling on stage and coming together and adding new energy to the move and to the songs. I think the fans have really taken that in and love it and eat it up. They love the fact of change. It’s a new era with everything.

Well you guys are really hot, Nate and Rosero. Jody, it’s got to be a blast working with these two.
JW: It’s so hard for me to be around them.

I bet.
We have our moments, and then we usually open our mouths and say something silly.  That’s usually Nate, but we love him for it.

You guys are probably amazing on stage all together. I can feel the energy over the phone. Will you be doing new material?
JW: The first half of the show is Shalamar. The second half of the show is Jody Watley, so it feels like a music journey. There is also new material in my set from my current release “Paradise,” but also Shalamar is a part of that, because Nate comes out to sing the duet “Night Life” with me. Rosero comes out – so there’s that. Maybe by Lincoln Center we will have added the forthcoming Shalamar single “Slow Dance.” We’re going to Brazil on Thursday, so I don’t know if we will get to rehearse it, but I would like to be able to debut it at Lincoln Center.

Jody, how did you find these guys?
JW: Long story. The universe brought us all together. I’ve known Rosero since 1997. We met to work together on a single I had called “Off the Hook.” The video was directed by Bille Woodruff. I never have been big on working with choreographers, not that I have anything against them.  They do come in handy for staging. I like doing my own thing. But Rosero was brought to me when we did the video “Off the Hook,” and then we did a remix video. So we’ve worked together since then, and we’ve become friends. I never would have thought that the journey would lead us to be working together in this particular capacity. Nate auditioned in Los Angeles, where he beat out 1,000 other young hopefuls, and he just has it all. He’s got the look, he’s got the voice, the charm, and he can dance his ass off. He was my pick right way.

Good choice, Jody. Now boys, what is it like working with Jody?
NS: For me it’s fantastic. It’s like, I have to literally pinch myself on stage sometimes, like, “Is this really happening?” I’ve only been with the group since January, but I feel like in that time frame, from then to now, I’ve learned so much. It’s like a dream come true. It’s changed my life, my family’s life. It’s just been great. I can’t even ever ask for a better situation to be in right now, ever.
RM: For me, working with Jody has been everything! Jody makes you pull up on stage. Jody makes you pull up. I remember the first time ever working with Jody on stage, she wore us out.  It was like “OK, we’ve got to pull up,” and it has not stopped from then till now for me. Then the experience from being on stage is one that you can’t really explain. It’s a timeless experience, a journey that we’re going on with her that is the best journey I’ve ever had in my entire life. It’s been great. It’s great to call her my sister. It’s great to call her my friend, my family. It’s the best experience I’ve ever had, and to now allow me to be a part of Shalamar, it’s the part of the journey, the part of my life that will definitely be a highlight to remember. I love it. I love it.

Aww, that is so sweet.
Yeah, I’m getting a little emotional.
JW: I am too!

All of that love will become apparent right on stage to your fans, Jody. After Lincoln Center, what’s the next project?
JW: We will continue to do more concerts, more music coming. “Slow Dance” will really be only a teaser to some of the other things that we have planned. There is a new video, more music. Then on the Jody Watley end, “Dancer” is the next single from “Paradise” I feel ties in so much to Shalamar Reloaded, because it seems to be one of the catalysts of many that kind of got it going.
NS: Watch us work, watch us bring it, that’s for sure.
JW: “Watch Us Bring It,” which we will be doing this summer at Midsummer Swing, and I can’t wait.

I feel like you’ve totally reinvented yourself. I’m so excited for you.
JW: Thank you.

Your Night of a Thousand Gowns dress was amazing. People are still talking about it and posting it on Facebook.
JW: I was noticing that. You know, Princess Lockeroo was one of the young ladies that danced with me. We have history together, too. She has worked with me before. She will be doing waacking lessons on the dance portion of the night. It’s going to be great. It’s such a music-based event. It’s about the respect of the music. To continue to be able to find new and exciting ways to deliver the music and perform the music live, connect with the people and make them feel good and happy. It’s such a gift.

Tour Dates:

Jun 24 | Howard Theater
w/ Shalamar
Washington, DC

Jun 25 | Lincoln Center
w/ Shalamar
New York, NY

Jun 27 | Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
w/ Shalamar
London, United Kingdom

Jun 28 | Melkweg The Max
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Eileen Shapiro

Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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