|The classic and most popular lineup of SHALAMAR ™|
BY CYNTHIA HORNER
Shalamar and I just keep running into each other. Jeffrey Daniel spent a whole morning in my office recently and Jody and Howard, and I attend a lot of the same social functions, so during all of our socializing we made plans to do a cover story.
A few days later, following a long photo session (as you know we strive for perfection), it's time for the interview at Solar Records. As usual, pretty Jody is the first to appear. "Is it always this way?" I ask, "Yes, usually" she admits in her quiet manner.
Just then Jeffrey walks in the door asking for Howard. Howard is usually the second to show up for appointments so Jeffrey was surprised not to find him there. "But I'm not always late" he protests.
"Yes, you are," I tell him. "Why?' "Well because my legs are the longest and it takes more time for me to get in and out of cars," he quickly makes up an excuse.
"He's so hyperactive it seems he'd be here early, Jody remarks.
"No, the reason why is I do so many things in one day," he explains. "That's what it is, I try to cram in a lot of things."
"I do too," Jody kids him."No today, I went to Pasadena and back put film in the shop to be developed, and…" his voice trailed off as Jody merrily bursts into laughter.
"Have you a new source of transportation now that you're more successful?" I ask him.
"Yep, a new skateboard. I always have ridden skateboards, unicycles and skates. I don't go out that much anymore, but I used to skateboard down Hollywood Boulevard. I'd take my skateboard with me to the movies and lay it across the armrests so I could use it to hold my refreshments. I have memberships to skateboard parks and used o go riding all the time. On the streets I get recognized, so I can't do it as much."
I kept hearing noise outside the doorway and felt I recognized the voices. Leon Sylvers peeped his head in to say hello through the doorway. William Shelby of Dynasty was somewhere around, and I later met Reggie Calloway of Midnight Star. Linda Carriere of Dynasty called on the phone and photos of of The Sylvers, Lakeside, and Carrie Lucas hang on the walls, I was excited to be within the record company, as all their artists have been to visit me at Right On!
It reminded me to tell Jeffrey how much everyone at our offices enjoyed having him visit one morning. "You probably created a good impression because you brought me flowers. That's a sign of good manners." I tease him.
"I'll tell you why I brought them," he says. "I know why you brought them; you don't want me to be angry with you for anything."
"That's not why," Jeffrey protests. "It was because that was my first invitation to come talk to you at your office. I was very happy to come." "Why?" "For the same reason you're enjoying your visit at Solar. I have always
liked reading Right On! ever since I used to dance on Soul Train. Shalamar's been around the world and has gold records, but visiting Right On! was even more special to me."
"Me too," Jody chimes in. "I have all the old Right On!'s to prove I care. I entered the Miss Right On! contest when I was in 8th grade." "Don't use the old picture," warns latecomer Howard. "We don't want to shock anyone," he laughs. "I guess I take Right On! for granted," I surmise. "That's because you're there everyday," they chorus. "You can't see the forest for the trees," Howard adds.
"Who is the go between when the group has arguments," I wonder. "We don't have arguments," Jeffrey explains affectionately at his two favorite people. "Majority always rules. Like sometimes if I want to wear my hair one way and they want it another way, I have to go along with them. That happened with the photo session for the 'Friends' album which will come out in January," "What did you want to do?" Jody starts laughing, Jeffrey seriously says, "I have been wearing my hair sort of in dreadlocks except they didn't really dread. As you see,
it's like that now, I only combed it for the photo session." "but your hair wasn't even combed when you first arrived; it was braided. I was so afraid to ask you to unbraid it that I didn't know what to do," I confessed. Jody chuckles with me sympathetically having been through this before."
"Oh well, I just came in from the airport; I ha been back home to attend a wedding in Michigan for Shalamar's drummer and that's why it was like that." Jeffrey says.
"Jody, were you the main objector to the way he wanted to wear his hair?" "Yes, well, no." "It was majority rules," Jeffrey hastens to add. "Do you get hurt feelings, Jeffrey?" I ask him. "Sometimes. If you believe in something…" "We all go through that," Jody says. "Jody takes it the hardest. If it's choreography or whatever, and Howard and I don't want to go for it, she'll pout for a second. She'll get quiet on us," Jeffrey smiles at his dance partner.
"She seems so reasonable," I say glancing at the 21 year old female lead vocalist. "She usually is," Jeffrey agrees. "Reasonable?" Howard questions. "Huh!" "Yes, she pouts," Jeffrey went on. "But Howard and I knock her out of it."
"Usually the three of us think along the same lines," Howard mentions. "When we first got together, it was a meant to be situation. Jeffrey and I being the two male elements of the group had to feel each other out at first, but everything worked out." "Yeah, I got tired of him beating me up," Jeffrey laughs.
"Jeffrey," I remind him. "Remember the time we talked about your feelings on being original? Why don't you go into more details for the readers."
"Oh, yes, look at me now." The two-thirds of Shalamar look him over from head to toe. He's wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and an odd looking cap. "I like anything that's odd and interesting; I don't wear designer clothing. You know what? That's why I dance the way I do. I don't like to do anything anyone else does. It would hurt me to dance one way throughout a whole song. It would give me a pain in my chest."
"Are you doing anything new with your dancing these days?" "Yep" "It's getting worse" Jody murmurs innocently.
"That's cold" Howard exclaims. "I'm trying to stretch out; I don't want to do the same things I've been doing. I create a lot of new steps in discos, that have nice sized dance floors. "Speaking of dancing, do you ever visit Soul Train?" "Yes, we all go down there," says Jeffrey who seldom misses a taping if he can help it." "How does Don Cornelius treat you now that you're all famous?" "Same as always." He lowers his voice perfectly matching Don's. "Hey, Jeff" Jody chuckles delightedly.
"What did you with the photo I gave you of the two of you onstage at Soul Train?" "It's hanging up on display. After all if it weren't for Don, there'd be no Shalamar. It brought me out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This sounds awful, but I quit high school so I could get to Los Angeles to be on Soul Train, Don Cornelius and Dick Griffey put together Soul Train Records, and through that company Shalamar was formed. I have a lot of respect for Don and Dick because they're two successful black businessmen. They know a lot."
The two other Shalamar members bob their heads in agreement. I look at Howard a little more closely, noticing how much he's changed since joining the group. "That's what everyone says; I don't know why." Howard explains, his shirt unbuttoned exposing a sexy hairy chest. "The boy's got some money in his pocket!" Jeffrey teases.
"I remember the first time I came to Right On! for a photo session. I wasn't even ready for it," he shakes his head remembering how he looked. "I remember my wife Rainy was pregnant at the time." "That's the baby I see all the time now?" I exclaim in amazement.
"She's not a baby anymore -- that was at least two and a half years ago. Now, I have another little girl, little Rainy Daze, who is 6 months old. I wasn't able to be at the hospital for her birth since we were on tour, but I helped deliver my first. She was born in 36 minutes. Four or five years later I'd like to have a boy." "Does your wife travel with you?" "She and my older daughter like it. They hang pretty tough." "Does your wife get lonely and expect a call every night when you're apart?"
The happily married man's eyes crinkle with laughter as he reveals, "Let's out it this way. She gets a call every night."
"How does it feel to have so many fans in love with you after your gold album "Three For Love?"
Howard says "It feels good, I praise the Lord for it. If they weren't running after us, something would be wrong."
"Did the songs give your fans romantic ideas about you?" "You should read some of the fan mail. The part I wrote in "For The Lover In You" was dedicated to all the lovers out there, my wife in particular.
"Hey, enough of that," Jeffrey broke in. "The theme of this issue is Christmas, remember?" We can't forget what we're here for." I ask Jeffrey if he likes celebrating Christmas. "Yeah" "I'll bet you like getting presents" "No," he contradicts me. "I like giving presents, I break myself financially. I like to surprise people and make them happy. Jody and I always used to bring the Soul Train dancers together for the holidays and cook for them. This Christmas I think I'll be at Jody's new house raiding the refrigerator since she says she'll be cooking a lot." "You know what? I'd like to see how many people would enjoy Christmas if they didn't get presents. It's so crazy, Christmas is supposed to be the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. What does it matter if we get presents or not; it's not our birthday." Jody agrees. "We shouldn't wait for a holiday to come up to express love and show people we appreciate them. That's how we were taught in our household anyway."
Howard concludes, "We have a special message to give to our fans this season. First of all, they're not going to be called fans anymore; they've supported us to the point that we now consider them our friends. We want to remain friends with them.
And what better people to spend your holiday season with than your friends?
|Jeffrey Daniel. Jody Watley, Howard Hewett in 1980|