Jody Vanessa Watley (born January 30, 1959) is an American singer, songwriter, record producer, music maverick and one of music's defining artists. whose music crosses genres from Pop, R&B, Jazz, Dance and Electronic Soul. In 1987, she won the Grammy Award for "Best New Artist." Along with Janet Jackson and Madonna, she ranks as one of MTV Video Music Awards most nominated female artists ever, with six nominations for her ‘Real Love’ video.
To date, she is best known for her role in being a pioneer setting trends and standards for dance, style, music and video. Early in her solo career she was also noted for her commercial dance pop stylings with a funky edge. Jody Watley is also noted as being the first Pop/R&B singer to include a rapper on the specialized verse/bridge with their collaboration on "Friends" released in 1989, featuring Eric B. & Rakim, which would become a popular formula in commercial Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop. (Chaka Khan's platinum hit single, "I Feel For You" in 1984 had a verse by pioneer rapper Grandmaster Melle Mel, however Melle Mel was not credited equally as the artist in the billing of the single. Jody Watley's "Friends" single was distinct in that it included "with Eric B & Rakim" as the artist in the billing and charting of the song.)
In 2008, she was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Billboard magazine, and was also prominently featured in the historic black issue of Vogue Italia in 2008.
Her early music influences are Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, The Jackson 5, The Carpenters, Roberta Flack, Prince, Grace Jones and various jazz artists including Nancy Wilson.