Jody Vanessa Watley (born January 30, 1959, in Chicago, Illinois) is an American, singer, songwriter, record producer, and founder of Avitone Records 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 6 nominations for her ‘Real Love’ video.
To date, she is best known for her role in setting trends and standards for style, music and video in the late '80s. 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" featuring Eric B. & Rakim, which would become a popular formula in commercial Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop.
Watley has sold over 50 million albums and singles Worldwide. 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.