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Vertie Joann Delapaz (Ms. Jody) was born on November 10th in Chicago, Illinois. Two years after she was born, her parents--contractors in the Chicago area--returned to their former home in Bay Springs, Mississippi, about 65 miles southeast of Jackson, where they continued to live (and listen to a lot of R&B around the house) through Ms. Jody's childhood.
In 2005 Vertie's brother, Dale Pickens, took her to her first blues show--Denise LaSalle--and the experience inspired Ms. Jody to consider performing herself. "I can do that," she remembers thinking.
That fall in 2005, O. B. Buchana and his band, Total Control, were celebrating a CD Release Party in Meridian, Mississippi, just up the road from Bay Springs. Pickens knew some of the band members, and he introduced Ms. Jody to them and the band's manager, William Day.
Day was so enamored of Ms. Jody's talent that he asked her if she'd like to travel to Memphis and meet John Ward and Morris "J" of Ecko Records. They were also impressed, and Ecko released Ms. Jody's first album, You're My Angel, in March of 2006.
The first single from the album--at any rate the track that first played in central Mississippi--was a Lillie Pickens-composed song entitled, aptly enough. "Ms. Jody." At the time, no one had ever heard of Ms. Jody, and the upbeat number, although diverting, wasn't strong enough to make an impression. Soon after, however, deejays discovered a country-influenced song on the album called "I Never Take A Day Off (From Loving My Baby)."
"I Never Take A Day Off," with Ms. Jody's unaffected, Nashville-inflected vocal riffing over the solid, soul-blues Ecko house band, sounded almost revolutionary in a soul context, and the record soon caught on across the South.
Ms. Jody's What You Gonna Do When The Rent Is Due, a more than adequate sophomore effort, came out surprisingly soon, on Ecko in November of 2006. The new disk also featured an against-the-grain, novel-sounding single, "Your Dog's About To Kill My Cat," this time an R&B-influenced tune produced by John Ward with a throwback-sounding string section.
Once again, the Stations of the Deep South loved the track, with its "You're-wearing-me-out" lyrics from Ms. Jody's protagonist, a sexually-beleaguered woman saddled with a man with unquenchable appetites.
The album was fuller and more professional over all than her debut, with tracks such as "Big Daddy Don't You Come," "One Way Love" (with O. B. Buchana), and "You Got To Know How To Work It" showcasing Ms. Jody's unique vocal qualities.
The songs carried Ms. Jody through 2007 on virtually all Southern Soul play lists and served notice that the artist wouldn't "fade" as do so many female performers in the hard-to-crack, male-dominated Southern Soul market.
I Never Take A Day Off, Ms. Jody's third album, kicked off 2008 and was still "fresh" as of this writing. Strong potential singles from the disk (not counting the reprise of the heralded single from her debut album) included: "Energizer Bunny," "Ms. Jody's Thing" (Daddy B. Nice's Number One "Breaking" Southern Soul Single for March 2008), "It's The Weekend," "I'm So Thankful" and "Lonely Housewife."
Once again produced by John Ward, Morris J. Williams and the Ecko staff, including longtime, Ecko-affiliated songwriters Raymond Moore and John Cummings, the new album featured an eclectic mix of tunes by a singer on the fast track to becoming one of Southern Soul's premier performers.
Ms. Jody remains based in her home area southeast of Jackson, but now makes an impression wherever she goes, such as the Nexus Juke Joint Tour in 2007. In an interview with Daddy B. Nice in March 2008, she reported touring plans that include a March 22nd, VFW date in Greenville, Ms., an upcoming concert in Vicksburg, and potential forays into North Carolina and the Bahamas.