Back in 2019, Pharrell debuted his festival called Something In The Water in his hometown in Virginia. He headlined that first festival himself, performing with a succession of surprise-guest collaborators that included Jay-Z, Diddy, Usher, Snoop Dogg, Missy Elliott, and Tyler, The Creator. Now, as he gears up to host his festival for the second time ever since it was postponed due to the pandemic, he has made the decision to pull the festival from Virginia Beach due to what he calls its “toxic energy.”
According to stereogum.com, Pharrell’s problems with the Virginia Beach leadership are intense, political, and personal. In part due to the fact that Pharrell’s 25-year-old cousin Donovan Lynch was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer this past March. The officer didn’t have is body camera turned on during the shooting. Police claimed that Lynch had “brandished a weapon,” while his family claims that he was legally permitted to carry a gun.
Pharrell wrote an open letter to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney yesterday about his decision to pull Something From The Water from Virginia Beach, Pharrell mentioned Lynch’s homicide and a 2019 mass shooting that left 12 people dead: “I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy. The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times around the homicide of my cousin, Donovan Lynch, a citizen of Virginia, is the same toxic energy that changed the narrative around the mass murder and senseless loss of life at Building Number 2… Until the gatekeepers and the powers-that-be consider the citizens and the consumer base, and no longer view the idea of human rights for all as a controversial idea… I don’t have a problem with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.”
In a response to Williams, Duhaney wrote, “Before any final decisions are made, the Mayor and I would like to fully understand the sentiment that has brought us to this point. With great humility we hope that you and Festival leadership might be willing to meet with us in person to discuss our partnership.” According to Duhaney, the first Something In The Water festival brought about $41 million into Virginia Beach.
Photo Credit Sharon Alagna