In 2019, Pharrell invited some of today’s top stars to take the stage in his Virginia Beach hometown for his Something In The Water festival. The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021, but in 2022, things will be a little different. The musician has decided to move the festival away from Virginia Beach, citing the city’s “toxic environment” in a letter to officials.
Pharrell’s letter comes as a response to Virginia Beach City Manager Patrick Duhaney’s memo to the musician dated September 26, which detailed his “immense disappointment” in learning Something In The Water would be moved from the city. In Pharrell’s response to Duhaney, the musician explained that much of his decision to move the festival is due to the city’s response to his cousin’s murder by a police officer who did not have their body camera turned on:
“I love the city of Virginia Beach. I’ve always loved the city of Virginia Beach and most importantly our people. It’s a part of my beloved 757.
When we did the festival, it was to ease racial tension, to unify the region, bring about economic development opportunities and broaden the horizons of the local business community. We achieved those things! I wish the same energy I’ve felt from Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life.
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.
I sang about a room without a roof, but I am tired of kindly and politely being shown the door.
Until 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 any problems with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.”
Read Pharrell’s full letter here.