*When you are busy living your life it’s difficult to waste time on nonsense, unless it’s of your own choosing.
When you are busy living your life it’s difficult to understand why others seem so upset about another walking and creating their own path.
When you are busy living your life you know that the only thing that matters is what you think of yourself, the love of your children, family, close friends – opinions will always be there, but at the end of the day what difference does it make? Even when folks reduce themselves to lying about you – it goes back to just living your life not wasting moments.
We are all just passing through as I’ve written many times in sharing some of my journey. Even writing this blog, I was like what’s the point – but there is one.
If you’ve followed my career at all, you’ll recall that through the years I’ve said the sudden death of my father in 1982 changed my life, he wasn’t even 50 years young. It was one of the final catalyst’s for my departure from Shalamar at the time. It was a wakeup call that life is short and unpredictable – be happy as much as you can, surround yourself with love, joy, people who inspire and uplift, and run – don’t walk away from people who want to tear you down and exist to suck the life and joy out of you. Take inventory of your life, what are you doing, who’s in it. Once you’re old enough to make your own choices, do it, embrace the personal power of that. Continue to revise along the way as needed fueled with knowledge and life lessons which are always ongoing.
This mindset remains a core philosophy of my life and career. Apparently, by the simple fact that I’m just living my life – my way and not kissing anyone’s a**..it seems a constant thorn in the side of some because I’m not living my life by public opinion nor the desires of others. I’m not falling in line, not going with status quo, not knowing my place. I know the politics of this business very well and men. It goes back to my earlier days ‘Why are you being such a bitch Jody -” when I’d be standing up for myself against misogyny, sexism and disrespect. I was called a Princess as a little girl and so when belittled I’m happy I had the foundation and strong sense of self worth – value. I grew up to be a Queen – not by record sales or public titles -but simply from growing into a woman I can be proud of when I look in the mirror. I roll with men who treat me as I should be treated, and it’s returned by me in my treatment of them. That’s my choice – I own that. I encourage that.
To that end I was disappointed, though not surprised that a former colleague of mine Howard Hewett took to the airwaves to badmouth me, something he has a history of going back to my solo debut, and recently several negative comments. This time the platform was the Tom Joyner Morning Show falsely accuse me of illegally registering the Shalamar trademark. Fans alerted me via social media “You’re being called out..” One of the new guys in Shalamar heard it and was pissed. Word spread. I was like whoa, and then forwarded to my trademark attorney. It’s obvious he was an invited guest to create a ‘Shalamar Situation’ rather anything he might have going on with his career.
Joyner, an influential broadcaster is also a respected philanthropist raising millions of dollars for historically black colleges through his Tom Joyner Foundation. I would expect more from him, despite the fact he’s an obvious friend and ally to Hewett, it was unprofessional. No such invitation was or has been extended to me.
To be clear, I did not illegally register the Shalamar trademark, it is lie, anyone who says so is willfully slandering me, engaging in defamation of character. These claims are without merit. All of the current efforts by others are in violation of my rights as owner and in contempt of trademark law and the appeals process of which Baldwin (Griffey) has initiated after initially agreeing to comply.
The United States Trademark and Patent Office did a thorough examining and investigative process upon my application. I became the owner of the mark (which had never been registered) in May 2014. My trademark number is #4,530,877 issued by the United States of America, United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is the government people! It is that office of examining attorneys who reviewed my application, went through a lengthy process ultimately approving and registering the mark to me after a year and a half – as I said in a press release and round of interviews arranged by my publicist Tom Estey PR earlier in 2015. At that time Tom Joyner Morning Show certainly had the opportunity to have me on as a guest to talk to me as an artist, entrepreneur and plans for the new members. I had no reason, nor would I ever falsify any information. It’s all in the public domain. Shalamar began in 1977, had various lineups and ended in 1990. Solar Records went out of business and involved in bankruptcy.
Upon notification of the registration June 2014, all parties including Hewett through his manager said “They will abide by it.” There was no challenge or talk of a clandestine meeting, or any alleged document by Baldwin. This would come after they saw how serious I was and began using my trademark, as I’m required to do by trademark law rules and regulations.
My only request at that time, which was also the catalyst for researching the mark through legal counsel, that all false and misleading ads and practices stop which they had been engaged in the United Kingdom, starting with an appearance on a show called ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ where they attempted to deceive the public that Baldwin (Griffey) was me – with Shalamar was back together like old times. Ok. Talk about a lack of trust and ethics? If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything and people will walk all over you – especially in this industry.
As a business person – I did what anyone with any smarts and savvy would have done. Imagine someone using your likeness and then saying you didn’t show to a concert, and fans starting to think you’re a flake. Imagine seeing your image with someone else’s name under the photo as if they were you. A systematic effort to morph someone else into taking for credit for work I was a part of. I took a legal approach to solve an issue in turn it created a new opportunity with an ‘intent to use’ and now I’m doing just that with a considerable investment on my part.
As a result of my registration, you will now notice Facebook pages touting their names with lots of pictures, a page that claims for be for Shalamar fans – of which you will not find any mention of me, Gerald Brown, Gary Mumford, D’Lisa Davis.That said, they are not Shalamar beyond when they do shows in the UK and now show individual names as ‘featuring’ – no longer cartoon images or my likeness which is a direct result of my registration and the reforming of a new group SHALAMAR. All current and recent efforts from them are. There is one legal and registered Shalamar – not two.
Carolyn Baldwin (stage name Griffey) feels a sense of entitlement to the degree claiming now – it’s her group because of the past history of Solar, the relationship with her stepfather and mother former singer Carrie Lucas. Solar went out of business in 1990. There is no record of any meeting as Howard stated of being present at registered with any trademark – which would not represent a legal trademark, there was no prior registration number and the mark itself was long ago abandoned in the USA. It’s because of my current efforts (concerts, new music and video, television appearances, label deal, interviews) with the new group that people are even talking about Shalamar again. If the trademark and appeals board decides it made an error after the process completes – so be it, however I’m confident I will prevail. Regardless – I will still be busy living my life. I will still be Jody Watley with a music legacy already cemented, with a continued desire to build on it with quality, style and class. No one gave it to me – this is work and I’ve earned everything I’ve worked for including my reputation. Nate, Rosero and I will go on — the past will always be there for the older fans with a load of memories, no one is trying to take that away. Business is business – change is a part of life. That said – even while being challenged by Baldwin (Griffey). I am the legal and registered owner and entitled to all rights under trademark Law and the Lanham Act of Shalamar®. (See legal notice below).
It’s my suggestion that anyone curious about how trademarks work. Do some research or consult with a trademark attorney. Research Famous Amos cookies the man who founded it who in the end did not own the trademark – and his subsequent No Name Cookies brands. I’m represented by Michael L. Lovitz IP Law as well as advised by Albert F. Davis in this specific matter. It wasn’t until they all saw that I had reformed the group with new members Nate Smith, Rosero McCoy that the vitriol began. As a note, I did pitch the classic Shalamar lineup to the Essence Music Festival for a one time performance as a farewell of sorts for America, to date Essence did not express interest, though they indicated they would love to have me back (I performed there in 2013). Howard and Jeffrey did a reunion tour in the UK with Baldwin using my likeness and dressing her in my old style, complete with my signature jumbo hoop earrings, and tutu onstage to promote it several years ago. They never asked if I was interested in that – contrary to what they say now “Jody said no” which is also untrue and clearly want to continue to create some negative feelings against me. People are gullible and buy into it. Keep in mind this woman has never sung on one Shalamar hit single or album..ever, yet she says she’s not ‘filler’ – what does that mean? Remember D’Lisa Davis, who won a national talent search after my departure in 83? Give respect and credit where due. It’s always easy to do the right thing. What happened to earning your way and respect of those who came before? To those who suffered and built a foundation and in this case afforded a childhood of luxury. I’m not interested in working under that – God bless Jeffrey and Howard for wanting to. I’ve come too far. Call me Harriet Tubman.
I’m just busy living my life.
I won’t belabor in the ins and outs but anyone can say anything, but just like an episode of Judge Judy – you must provide paperwork, legal paperwork. Though Baldwin was boasting she was the owner as a reason they all felt they had the right to do whatever they wanted and damage me in the process; there was no registered trademark, period, until it was registered by Jody Watley- legally without any false information provided. This is a business.
This is the government we’re talking about! When you apply for a license, bank loan, cell phone, whatever – the government knows exactly who all of us are. I can’t give you my car if I don’t have paperwork.
For the last time, there is no rift on my end, beyond this latest attack on me with someone I worked with decades ago – beyond he and others trying to create unnecessary drama obviously trying to bait me into some public spat while Carolyn challenges my registration – I don’t do drama, which is why most of the time I ignore this stuff. However, when people start falsely accusing me to attempt to damage my reputation, undermine my efforts with the new Shalamar, something must be said. As well, the tired narrative of the mythical angry black woman who can’t be trusted is also an unfortunate stereotype being perpetuated by these two. Misogyny anyone? In these times in particular, I would hope that those who are afforded the luxury of such a high-profile platform would make positive use of it – use it for good and not for tearing down or trying to ruin the reputation of another for no reason beyond an obvious deep rooted bitterness. Certainly, as a veteran Grammy winning artist (the only one from Shalamar as a solo artist I’d add) I should have long ago earned the respect of my peers and the public – unless you’re fueled by jealousy, politics, with a desire to destroy someone in this business, which wouldn’t be the first time. As my Mom told me yesterday people should be careful digging ditches for others – as they may just end up falling into that very ditch and burying themselves. I sent an email to Howard months ago inviting him to join us after Gerald Brown was unable to for personal reasons – to which he declined and wished me well. Now this?! Curiously, no mention from him of this fact.. hmm.
Just say no to modern day shucking and jiving.
You don’t hear about me acting a fool or going in on people in interviews, nothing controversial, after being in this business for over three decades. It was only after the very biased UnSung episode that I talked in depth through a Youtube ‘Unfiltered’ series about what I said in my interview that was cut, I included original Gerald Brown, who was omitted. This was only after fans kept asking what I thought – even that is outdated now as that was 2009 and here we are in 2015. Time doesn’t stand still unless you’re stuck. I addressed the various omissions and blatant lies, but did so in a manner that reflected a perspective of what I learned through all of it. 1983, Jeffrey Daniel (here) which was totally different from what was said on Unsung – but for me it’s all old news and I wish others would let it go.
I’ve raised two children into young adults since I worked with Howard and people from the now defunct Solar Records.. Imagine if you had a former co-worker or classmate decades ago going on about you. It’s like the Twilight Zone of someone sitting in a dark room playing an old tape over and over – but life has gone on. My daughter Lauren is now a college graduate, with my youngest, my son Arie on his way to earning his degree in business and finance. While you’re busy living your life – some people seem stuck in a time of days gone by as they’ve become irrelevant to where you’ve been since you knew them and where you’re going into the future – as well where you’re at right now. Move on, I have.
Life is too short to be anything by joyful and full of gratitude to be alive – what can I do with my time today? What can I do better tomorrow if it comes? What can I do that I haven’t done? How many laughs can I share? Who’s life can be made better by my presence and vice versa. Who should be on the path to continue to make this journey fulfilling and fun?! How can I bring joy to others with my soul intact? That’s what life is about. I don’t have time to live someone else’s life and to pander to stale ego’s.
There are enough outlets devoted the destruction of people of color. Women are generally marginalized in the media and black women even more so. Even our current First Lady Michelle Obama gets this false tag of ‘angry black woman’ when she should be held in the highest regard as the intelligent, classy woman, wife, mother she is.
I don’t want any part of that narrative and any on air cooning and shenanigans displayed on the Tom Joyner Morning Show with Howard, or Centric TV blog who also ran a very unflattering piece on me and the new Shalamar taking aim at the new ‘SlowDance’ video – also implying I was lying and bitter. If I’m a man, it’s called shrewd and savvy.
What on earth am I bitter about anyway? This is funny to me anytime I see it. Being happy and successful? Handling my business? Taking control of my likeness and protecting my hard earned legacy? Having hit records? Being featured in early trendsetting fashion campaigns and ads and continuing to do what I love? I don’t get it. Unless I’m the next target to be a part of a smear campaign and we see it all the time, it’s just sad. Tabloid “journalism”, click baits, ratings, the dumbing down of people. This was also from a network Centric TV that advertises itself as being about empowering black women! I don’t deserve this – at all.
Going back to decades of interviews, I’ve always carried myself with intelligence, humor and class. I was ridiculed and bullied as a child for being smart, well dressed and quiet – always keeping to myself. Stuck up they said – run home from school, girls waiting to jump me in the restroom. It feels like that now sometimes – attack attack attack. Bullies.
As a professional, artist, songwriter, producer and entrepreneur who owns her own business – I talk about my work, what I’m promoting which is what any professional who has things going on should be doing. Isn’t that enough? Anytime we’ve crossed paths, Howard and I – which isn’t often, it’s always cordial. He would find peace within and stop with this bizarre ongoing public cry for attention; and certainly to not continue with slander and defamation of character with, Daniel and Baldwin (Griffey) supporters.
The new Shalamar is Nate Allen Smith and Rosero McCoy and I, we’re excited about the possibilities for us to build on something and make our own mark. these guys rock and are also great guys to be around and work with. Shalamar in the past was obviously a place to introduce new talent – it’s awesome to be able to showcase two worthy talents to the world. In case you forgot from 1977 to 1990 there were many lineups, although of course the classic 3 from 79-83 remains the most recognized so far. Of course, older fans will always love the popular classic 3 – that’s fine, but this is now. Nate and Rosero are not just two guys I take on the road. Our new single is SlowDance available through the Spectra Music Group with a gorgeous new video directed by Damien Sandoval.
I’m busy living my life – blessed and full of gratitude. – Jody Watley
Further for all avoidance of doubt, I’m not simply saying I own it, it’s a fact.
Excerpts of a legal notifications sent to all parties through my legal counsel.
This firm represents Ms. Jody Watley with respect to certain trademark and unfair competition matters. Ms. Watley has requested that we write to you concerning your activities on behalf of your clients Carolyn Baldwin, Howard Hewett and Jeffrey Daniel.
As you have previously been made aware, Ms. Watley secured U.S. Registration No. 4,530,877 for the mark SHALAMAR for entertainment services, apparel and other related merchandise, which registration was issued on May 13, 2014 (the “Registration”). The Registration is valid and subsisting. A copy of the registration certificate is attached for your reference.
As you and your clients have previously been advised, Ms. Jody Watley is the owner all right, title and interest in and to the SHALAMAR trademark, and is the owner of U.S. Trademark Registration No. 4,530,877 for such mark, which registration remains valid and subsisting.
Under U.S. trademark law, as codified in Chapter 22 of Title 15 of the United States Code (the “Lanham Act”), Ms. Watley’s registration conveys, inter alia, the right to exclusive use of the mark in connection with the goods and services identified in the registration, which includes entertainment in the nature of live musical performances. Ms. Watley therefore has the right, under the law, to prevent any other party from using the same mark in connection with the same or related goods or services, or otherwise in a manner that is likely to confuse the consuming public. The benefits of ownership of a federal trademark registration, including the right to stop infringing uses of the mark, such as those being made by your clients, remain firmly in place until such time as the registration is surrendered or rights in the mark abandoned by the trademark owner.
Additionally, any third party participating or assisting in such unlicensed and unlawful uses, such as by advertising or promoting live musical performances using the “Shalamar” name, would be vicariously and/or contributorily liable for trademark infringement, and subject such parties to penalties, including punitive and/or compensatory damages, injunctive relief, and payment of court costs and attorneys fees, under U.S. Trademark Law.
….. Lovitz, IP Law Inc.