Michelle Obama Presented DJ D-Nice With The 2020 Webby Artist Of The Year Award For Club Quarantine
The 49-year-old DJ hopes to bring his Club Quarantine project on the road once the pandemic lifts.
In the first-ever “Webbys From Home,” music mogul DJ D-Nice took home the biggest individual award.
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D-Nice, born Derrick Jones, won the 2020 Webby Artist of The Year award on Tuesday night.
He was lauded for his work unifying communities with live, streamable music sets and interviews, branded as Club Quarantine, since the coronavirus pandemic started. He was presented his award by major fan and former FLOTUS Michelle Obama.
“With his Club Quarantine parties, Derrick has created a space where folks can come together from living rooms and basements all over the world to let off some steam, dance it out and just enjoy each other’s company,” Obama, who referred to Jones as her friend, said.
“Partying with a purpose…his turntables have provided a soundtrack for so many of our volunteers, helping us reach more than 400,000 eligible voters throughout our recent couch parties," she added.
In late March, Club Quarantine partnered with Obama's organization When We All Vote to encourage those tuning in to register to vote, as Blavity previously reported.
"I know we’re all looking forward to D-Nice bringing down the house when we can all be together again," the former FLOTUS added.
As tradition goes, Webby asked award winners to give a five-word acceptance speech. Jones' response was one of humility with a touch of humor.
“So, this isn’t a prank?” he quipped.
Jones, a New York native, found fame in the 1980s emerging hip-hop scene as a member of the group Boogie Down Productions with legendary rapper KRS-One.
Since the group split in the early 90s, Jones has switched lanes as a party DJ and celebrity photographer. In 2012, he DJ’d former President Barack Obama’s inauguration and has taken portraits of Tyra Banks and John Legend.
This March, the DJ curated the Club Quarantine project in an effort to stay busy and keep his mind off social distancing himself from friends and family. In an interview with W Magazine, he detailed how the effort snowballed into an Instagram Live experience.
“The next day, I hit John Legend up, and I hit Dave Chappelle up,” Jones said. “It totally went away from what I initially thought it was gonna be, this hip-hop interview series. And it became this cool little club, and I would just invite my friends. I wasn’t even DJ’ing at that point, I was strictly playing songs from my laptop into the phone. And every day, it just started to change.”
The success of the 49-year-old's livestreams helped birth other social media-fueled live experiences as the nation continues to social distance, like Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s Verzuz initiative — a live music "battle" between artists.
Verzuz won the Webby’s Break the Internet award, which was presented by Jill Scott, an artist who participated in the program with Erykah Badu earlier this month, as Blavity previously reported.
“Timbaland and Swizz Beatz haven’t just created some of the most bangin’ music of our times, they’ve also spent their careers uplifting other artists, which is why they created Verzuz,” Scott said.
Jones said he sees the future of his club as a show that he takes on the road that can be hosted at outdoor amphitheaters where friends and family can come together to dance and experience live music. He said he may have to drop the “quarantine” moniker from the brand when the pandemic subsides.
Check out the award presentation here.