May 16—ALBANY — There aren't many people who get to celebrate their birthday with a proclamation read by their hometown mayor declaring the day in their honor.
But then again, there aren't many people whose lives are as compelling as Albany's Willie Moody.
Albany Mayor Bo Dorough read a proclamation at Cafe 5.0 Saturday night declaring May 15 as Willie Moody Day in Albany in honor of Moody's 50th birthday and the release of the singer's latest single, "If Jesus Came Today, What Would He Say?"
With release of the song planned by the Georgia Music Association, Moody said he was simply going to "help out" on the single but instead was tabbed to sing and play on the song.
"The song will be on the newest Georgia Music Association compilation that will be released next month," Moody said as Saturday night's celebration swirled around him. "The original plan was for me to do some background on the single, but things didn't work out that way and I ended up singing and playing."
Moody, who was robbed of his sight by retinoblastoma at an early age, is no stranger to the spotlight. After being tutored by renowned Albany musician/educator Egbert Bacon, Moody twice opened for Ray Charles when the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer performed in Albany. The Albany artist also performed on the White House lawn for luminaries that included President George W. Bush.
Moody's career included stints with the P&W Trio, and he performed with the popular Mississippi Blind Boys from 2012-2014. But, he noted at Saturday's event held in his honor, his first musical love has always been the gospel music of his church. He has been the music director at Shiloh Baptist Church in Albany since 2016.
"We are here tonight to celebrate an extraordinary life," Dorough said in opening statements before reading the proclamation in Moody's honor.
The proclamation said, in part: "Whereas Mr. Moody, in addition to having overcome blindness to achieve critical acclaim and commercial success, has been active in both Very Special Arts, an organization committed to assuring that citizens with disabilities are involved in arts and culture ... and the National Federation for the Blind, which advocates for the visually impaired, seeks to educate the public on the challenges which confront this community, and is dedicated to assuring the civil rights of those who are blind are recognized and protected. ... The city of Albany wishes to participate in this event and recognize Mr. Moody's remarkable accomplishments."
Moody said he was humbled by the recognition.
"I remember my mother and me walking to Albany State University from Cotton Avenue (for music lessons with Bacon) when I was growing up and crying because we had to walk," Moody said. "My mother told me, 'You'll understand how important this is one day.' Now, with a family of my own, all that I have experienced in my life completes me as a man.
"I am so high tonight; this is such a blessing. When I was speaking with Mayor Dorough to go over the questions for tonight's event, I told him, 'Yes, Mayor Dorough' in response to a question. He said, 'Just call me Bo.' Man, that's such an honor, and he is such an honorable man. I think he is doing a good job for our community."
Henry Thomas with the Georgia Music Association, who organized the tribute to Moody, asked Cafe 5.0 owner Gilbert Udoto to hang a framed poster commemorating the event on the Albany restaurant's "Obama Room" wall.