Watkins graduated from Howard University in 1972 and began performing in jazz ensembles in Washington, D.C. shortly after. Watkins released several full-length albums and composed commissioned works for jazz ensembles, including a score for the play Lady Lester Sings the Blues and a jazz version of The Nutcracker ballet.
- Something Moving (Olivia, 1978)
- Winds of Change (Palo Alto, 1981)
- Spirit Song (Redwood, 1985)
- The Soul Kings (Wenefil, 1992)
- Touch Heal & Deliver (DDS, 1995)
- Watkins's Five Movements in Color and Wilson's Of Visions and Truth: A Song Cycle, performed by the New Black Music Repertory Ensemble. (Center for Black Music Research, and Albany Records, 2010)
- Music, All (1995-02-28). "Mary Watkins - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-04-01.