Last Updated: May 13, 2024
Richest CelebritiesSingers
Net Worth:
$6 Million
Jan 30, 1959 (65 years old)
5 ft 6 in (1.7 m)
Singer, Record producer, Songwriter, Pianist, Fashion Model, Dancer, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Jody Watley's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life

What is Jody Watley's Net Worth?

Jody Watley is an American singer, songwriter, and record producer who has a net worth of $6 million. Jody Watley is considered to be one of the defining iconic artists of the 1980s. Her music includes a palette of various genres, from Pop and R&B to Jazz and Electronic Soul. Watley got her professional start on the TV dance show "Soul Train" at the age of fourteen. Next, she became one of the original members of the R&B group Shalamar, with which she performed from 1977 to 1984. Following the band's split, Watley embarked on a solo career, releasing her debut album in 1987. It soon became a million-seller and spawned three US Top 10 hits; "Looking For A New Love," "Don't You Want Me" and "Some Kind Of Lover." This album earned Jody a Grammy award for Best New Artist later that year. Her subsequent album, "Larger Than Life," achieved gold status and included the US #2 hit "Real Love," as well as further hits like "Everything" and "Friends." Jody Watley's next releases, "Affairs Of The Heart" and "Intimacy," further cemented her status as one of the most energetic and adept contemporary soul singers. In 1995, she launched her own company, Avitone Records, to facilitate the release of her fifth album, "Affection," which was followed by four more: Flower (1998), The Saturday Night Experience (1999), Midnight Lounge (2001), and The Makeover (2006). To date, she is best appreciated for being a trendsetter and a pioneer who introduced new standards for dance, style, music, and video. She also got the credits for including a rapper on the specialized verse/bridge for the very first time with their collaboration on "Friends" featuring Eric B. & Rakim, which would become a common formula in commercial Pop/R&B/Hip-Hop.

Early Life

Jody Vanessa Watley was born on January 30, 1959, in Chicago, Illinois. She made her first stage appearance at the age of eight years old with singer and performer Jackie Wilson, who was a friend of the family and her godfather. She got her start on the television dance show, "Soul Train," when she was 14 years old. She also attended Dorsey High School and was voted the "best dancer" in her senior class poll.


After finishing high school, Watley was selected to become an original member of the R&B group Shalamar. She remained with the group from 1977 until 1983. While she was a member of the group, they released several albums and had a number of hit songs in the United States and around the world. However, she ultimately left the group due to disagreements over the artistic direction of Shalamar and because she had not been receiving promised payments from Solar Records.

After leaving Shalamar, Watley moved to England, where she worked with the British Jamaican roots reggae group Musical Youth on their album "Different Style!" She also worked with a number of other artists like Anne Dudley, Gary Langan, and J.J. Jeczalik. After remaining there for two and a half years, she returned to the United States and signed a recording deal with MCA Records. She released her debut solo studio album, "Jody Watley," in March of 1987. The album's lead single, "Looking for a New Love," became a hit, and the album went on to achieve a Gold certification by the Recording Industry Association of America. The album itself peaked at number ten on the U.S. "Billboard 200" chart and sold over four million copies worldwide. At the 1988 Grammy Awards, Watley won the award for Best New Artist.

In the spring of 1989, Watley released her second album called "Larger Than Life." She co-wrote eleven of the twelve songs that appeared on the album. The album was another success and also achieved Gold status. Singles on the album included "Real Love," "Looking for a New Love," "Everything," and "Precious Love." The music video for "Real Love" was nominated for a number of awards at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. In 1990, she was nominated for two Soul Train Awards, an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Female Artist category, and a Narm Award for Best Selling R&B Female Album.

In 1991, Watley released her third studio album, "Affairs of the Heart," on which she wanted to change her musical range and image and address more social concerns than she had done on previous albums. The album was well-received critically but did not do as well commercially as her prior two albums. However, she did receive an invitation from President George H. W. Bush to perform one of the singles, "It All Begins with You," at the White House, which she accepted.

Jody Watley

Charley Gallay/Getty Images

In November of 1993, she released her fourth solo album, "Intimacy." The album featured more romantic and angsty songs but again failed to achieve the success of her initial two albums. However, it received very positive critical reviews, many of which said that Watley deserved to be taken seriously as an artist rather than just a dancer and pop star.

In 1995, Watley parted ways with her label and started Avitone Records, her own label. On it, she released her fifth album, "Affection," in July. The following year, in 1996, she released a "Greatest Hits" album. She spent much of the next year recording her next studio album, "Flower," which did well on the "Billboard" Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts. She released her seventh album in 1999, "The Saturday Night Experience," followed by an eighth album in 2001 called "Midnight Lounge."

Watley's next major success came when she released "The Makeover." The first single on the album was a cover of Madonna's "Borderline," which reached the second spot on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts. The second single, "I Want Your Love," took the number one spot in June of 2007.

While "The Makeover" was Watley's last solo album release, she stayed very busy with music and collaborative projects over the next decade. In 2008, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the "Billboard" Music Awards. She was also prominently featured in the historic black issue of "Vogue Italia" the same year. In December of 2016, "Billboard" ranked her as the 21st most successful dance artist of all time. She was also honored at the 2017 Black Music Honors Awards as a Crossover Music Icon.

In March of 2021, Watley was named the First Ambassador of the National Museum of African American Music. The following year, she received an honorary doctorate in business and the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden. She was also inducted into the Women's Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Personal Life

Watley has a daughter, Lauren, with her former fiancé and music producer, Leon Sylvers III. She also has a son with her ex-husband, Andre Cymone. Her younger sister, Michele Watley, is also a singer who is better known as Midori.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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