OXFORD, Miss — The University of Mississippi announced Monday that the late renowned songwriter and UM alum Jim Weatherly will be honored with the university’s inaugural Medal for the Arts.
The UM Department of Music will recognize Weatherly’s legacy of songwriting and contributions to many genres of music.
Members of Weatherly’s family will be in attendance to make remarks and receive the award.
“The Medal for the Arts award recognizes skilled artistry – acclaimed or up-and-coming – or a supporter of the arts who positively affects the Lafayette-Oxford-University community,” said Nancy Maria Balach, chair and professor of music and CEO-artistic director of Living Music Resource.
Weatherly, who died February 3, 2021, was a star quarterback for the Ole Miss Rebels, leading Coach John Vaught’s squads to Southeastern Conference championships in 1962 and 1963 and a share of the 1962 national title.
He wrote mostly pop and country music. A Pontotoc native, Weatherly began writing songs when he was about 12 years old. He had his own bands during high school and while attending Ole Miss until he moved to Los Angeles in 1966.
He wrote some of Gladys Knight & the Pips’ greatest hits, including “Neither One of Us Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye,” “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” In 1999, “Midnight Train to Georgia” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was named one of the top 500 songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003.
Weatherly was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame. He was named Country Songwriter of the Year in 1974 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
He also had cuts recorded by Marie Osmond, Charley Pride, Dean Martin, Kenny Rogers, Reba McIntire, Kenny Chesney, Joan Osborne, Hall & Oates, Ed Bruce, The Temptations, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, Widespread Panic, Jennifer Hudson and many more.