By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Watley, another Chicago native, was invited to dance by a bit of "fortuitous destiny." She was only 14. "Though I had been invited the first time," Watley says, "it took several months for me to become a regular. I'd get kicked out, ride the bus home, cry, and the next month I'd go back and try it again. And it payed off.
"One of my favorites would probably be Labelle," says Watley when asked about watching some of the show's greatest performances. "They were so flamboyant. The word fierce is tossed around kind of cheaply today. But Labelle was genuinely fierce. We hadn't see anything like that before. It was futuristic. It was gospel. It was funk. It was dance. It was disco. I just remember the excitement and the buzz that day. The second that comes to mind would be David Bowie. I got kicked out of that taping because I wasn't invited and I snuck in."
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After launching a successful solo career and winning a Grammy in the '80s, Watley returned to sing on Soul Train seven times. "I recall crying in my dressing room because I remembered being a teenager and just wanting to get on the show and dance," Watley says. "I'd wanted to be a singer all my life and it was realizing a dream come true. It really meant so much to me. Perseverance and determination count for something."
Soul Train: The Hippest Trip in America airs on VH1 on February 5 and screens at the Paley Center on January 29, followed by a discussion with Don Cornelius, Jody Watley and other guests.
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