Jody Wat­ley with Sha­la­mar Reloaded

GA Voice - - Out­spo­ken -

Sha­la­mar Reloaded started with me and Rosero McCoy, a renowned chore­og­ra­pher for many years. We au­di­tioned hun­dreds of guys and chose Nate Allen Smith. He came out to Los An­ge­les to pur­sue his dream. He’s an in­cred­i­ble vo­cal­ist, dancer and all-around per­former. We’ve been tour­ing the world.

We’re about to re­lease our third sin­gle and video, “The Move”, which will come out just be­fore At­lanta Pride. We know that be­fore we play a Pride show, we bet­ter be ready to bring it and work it!

You men­tioned in your open let­ter the Don Miguel Ruiz book, “The Four Agree­ments”. It seems to have im­pacted your be­liefs in a strong way. How has it shaped your jour­ney?

It was first given to me about 20 years ago by a pub­li­cist friend of mine. He told me it would change my life. I read it and thought it was so pro­found. They are simple things and some­times the sim­plest can be the most dif­fi­cult. I give that book as gifts to peo­ple and ev­ery­one is al­ways so im­pacted by it.

One of the agree­ments is “don’t take things per­son­ally”. The book taught me that th­ese peo­ple who said bad things about me were try­ing to give me their poi­son be­cause they don’t feel good about them­selves. As a re­sult, I don’t take it per­son­ally. I’ve tweeted out quotes from the book – it’s a very pos­i­tive mes­sage to pass along to oth­ers.

You wrote that peo­ple in the AfricanAmer­i­can com­mu­nity have said you weren’t a true soul artist or R&B artist or you weren’t black enough or gospel enough or ratchet enough. Some­times, in the LGBT com­mu­nity, we do the same thing to each other. Why do you think that groups who al­ready feel marginal­ized tear each other down and what can we do to stop it?

That’s a great ques­tion. I’ve had those dis­cus­sions with friends of mine in the gay com­mu­nity. They’ve said ev­ery­thing you just said and they feel bad about it. I wrote a song in ’95, “Af­fec­tion”. It went “Doesn’t mat­ter if you’re young or old. Doesn’t mat­ter if you’re straight or gay. Ev­ery­body needs to feel loved.”

I know it sounds sim­plis­tic but those simple things are of­ten the most dif­fi­cult for some peo­ple. We need to step back and ask why is it that you feel that some­one is not (what­ever) enough for you? What is that within you that makes you project out on to some­one else? Some­one who is ba­si­cally just liv­ing their life in their own truth and their own path? Why does this be­come up­set­ting for oth­ers?

It’s of­ten some­one else’s in­se­cu­ri­ties or re­sent­ments. Some peo­ple just don’t like to see oth­ers happy, se­cure or em­brac­ing them­selves no mat­ter what or who they are. They don’t like the joy that comes with that in­ner free­dom be­cause they are, within them­selves, mis­er­able. They can’t rise up to liv­ing their own truth with con­fi­dence. The so­lu­tion is for peo­ple to stop be­ing so judg­men­tal and stop putting peo­ple in boxes that they think oth­ers should be in.

Your ac­com­plish­ments are end­less. You’ve re­ceived awards, ac­co­lades, you’ve per­formed ev­ery­where, you’ve acted, you’ve been a model, a writer, a busi­ness­woman… the list goes on. What ac­com­plish­ment are you the proud­est of?

Be­ing a grounded per­son that is still en­thu­si­as­tic about be­ing in this of­ten cut­throat busi­ness. I was talk­ing to Rosero to­day. He works with the young singer Keke Palmer and she just re­leased a video and she was talk­ing to him and said, “This busi­ness is a moth­er­fucker!” (laughs)

To be a strong per­son and to keep it mov­ing and not get beat up or self-de­struc­tive and let your in­se­cu­ri­ties or doubts or pub­lic opin­ion or pop­u­lar­ity spikes or dips get to you – I think that this is a great achieve­ment. I’m proud of ev­ery­thing. I just do me. If peo­ple love it, great. If not, it’s still cool be­cause I’m still do­ing me.

What do you want to tell At­lanta’s LGBT com­mu­nity?

My mes­sage is all about love. It doesn’t mat­ter who you are. No mat­ter what, let’s love each other a lot more. Touch­ing upon what you said ear­lier about us be­ing di­vided some­times, let’s love each other more and be fab­u­lous while we’re do­ing it.

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