Jody Watley hasn’t had to rely on her late-1980s hits like “Looking for a New Love” and “Real Love” to keep her career going.
In 2016, Billboard ranked her as the 21st most successful dance artists, thanks to those tracks as well as her recent foray into dance and electronic music. Earlier this year, the Black Music Honors TV special recognized Watley as crossover music icon honoree.
Now, she’s returning to the Colors of Christmas tour, along with Peabo Bryson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., and Ruben Studdard.
“When I did it 10 years ago, it was a beautiful experience,” she says. “It was a nice show because it’s one of the few that’s totally for the family. You get holiday classics and artists singing together who wouldn’t ordinarily be singing together.
“Then, you get us doing a few of our individual hits as well. It’s a wonderful evening of music. There’s no twerking here.”
This is the 25th incarnation of Colors of Christmas, which comes to Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino’s Ovations Live Showroom on Thursday, December 7. Watley recently released a Christmas single, “Like a Holiday,” to advance the tour.
“I’m a traditionalist,” says Watley, who enjoys Harry Connick Jr.’s holiday releases.
“I love the classics. I love the warm sounds. I wanted the song to be a holiday song that’s not a total Christmas song. It’s a groovy, ambient song. It’s about the spirit of love that I wish people had year-round, every day. The holidays bring out the best in people most of the time—except for Black Friday sales.”
Watley will feature “Like a Holiday,” as well as her hits at the show. She may even throw in the dance and electronica music that’s been keeping her busy.
“But the most fun part is performing with Peabo Bryson,” she says. “I listened to his music before I became a professional singer. I have such respect for him. As for Ruben Studdard, I voted for him on American Idol.
“One of my favorite songs is ‘Aquarius.’ I get to perform that with Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis from the Fifth Dimension. There’s something for everyone at this show.”
Colors of Christmas, Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino’s Ovations Live Showroom, 5040 Wild Horse Pass Boulevard, Chandler, 800.946.4452, wingilariver.com, 8 p.m. Thursday, December 7, $40-$85.