Jody Watley, a legendary singer, songwriter, record producer and motivational speaker, was recognized for her lifetime musical achievements by the State of Georgia, which has proclaimed June 2 as “Jody Watley Day.” Watley was also presented with the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, signed by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“I am truly honored for this recognition from President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris,” said Watley.
Watley’s musical legacy is comprised of a number of significant accomplishments. She started her musical career with the R&B group Shalamar. As a part of the group, Watley would sell millions of records and receive two Grammy nominations. As a solo artist, she was responsible for the 1987 groundbreaking single “Looking For A New Love,” along with her collaboration “Friends,” which featured hip-hop legends Eric B. & Rakim. “Friends” is widely-regarded as the first-ever crossover song consisting of R&B, hip-hop, pop and dance on the Billboard Top 10.
Watley won a Grammy in 1988 for Best New Artist. The music icon has six Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten Singles, 13 Number 1 Dance Singles, two R&B Number 1’s, 15 Top 40 Singles, multiple gold and platinum albums and a 2007 Billboard Dance Lifetime Achievement. In 1990, Watley was recognized for the more than one million sales of “Dance To Fitness,” a fitness video that advocated for women of color in the health and fitness market.
Watley’s extraordinary journey continued when she was awarded the 2017 recipient of the Black Music Honors Crossover Music Icon Award, as well as nominations from the American Music Awards, MTV Awards, NAACP Awards and Soul Train Awards.
In 2018, Watley earned a spot in Billboard Magazine’s Top Hot 100 Female Artists Of All Time, and Top 25 Female Dance Artists of All Time. In 2021, Watley was named First Ambassador of National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, following her award of an honorary doctorate degree in Entrepreneurship & Business Administration from Trinity international University of Ambassadors.
When asked about her inspiration during a music career spanning almost 50 years, Watley was happy to share.
“Music has just always been everything for me, for as long as I can remember,” Waltey said. “It was the thing that lifted me up when I felt sad and made me feel inspired.”
Watley mentioned that her being honored by the city of Atlanta meant a lot, since she had her challenges while in the industry.
“I faced my share of adversity and negativity, and the good is always going to outweigh the bad,” she said.
The Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award honors those who exhibit outstanding character, work ethic, and dedication to their communities. Georgia Representative Billy Mitchell and founder of Trinity International University of Ambassadors Dr. Jacqueline Mohair nominated Watley for the prestigious award.
“We are so excited to designate June 2nd as Jody Watley Day in Atlanta, Georgia,” said Mitchell. “She is truly the epitome of grace, excellence, class, and a gifted songstress and songwriter.”
“There is not a more deserving recipient to receive this honor than Dr. Watley, who has paved the way for so many others,” said Mohair.
Watley gave advice to those who are considering a career in music.
“Be tenacious! Remember that it is called show business, but the business is the main part,” She said. “Always remember the three P’s: planning, preparation, and perseverance.”