Something in the water
4/20/2023, 6 p.m.
Speaking of teaching, producer and singer Pharrell Williams is a shining example of a Black male role model who, despite his fame, fortune and talent, stays true to himself, his home and values.
He also believes in speaking truth to power. Several years ago, the award-winning producer and singer was intentional about his quest to bring a fun, sun-soaked music festival to his hometown in Virginia Beach. In 2019, he came with it—a multi-day music festival known as “Something In The Water.” It was a success.
After skipping a year when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the festival moved to Washington, D.C., last year. It garnered mixed reviews, with reports of overcrowding and high praise for Pharrell’s performance, which featured appearances from the reunited rap duo Clipse and singer Justin Timberlake.
“Something In The Water” returns to Virginia Beach April 28–30. A music lover’s dream, the festival will feature performances from Lil Wayne, Kamasi Washington, Grace Jones, Lil Yachty, Wu Tang Clan, SWV, Summer Walker and Masego, among many others. This year’s concert series includes an “RnB Block Party,” with music from Richmond music makers Mad Skillz and DJ Lonnie B, along with other prominent DJs for all three days.
It almost didn’t happen.
In a letter to Virginia Beach officials in October of 2021, the “Happy” singer wrote that the city was “run by and with toxic energy.” He mentioned the shooting death of cousin, Donovan Lynch, who was killed by police a few months prior and a 2019 mass shooting at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center. City officials expressed a desire to meet with the singer to discuss the future of the event, which reportedly brought more than $24 million to Virginia Beach area.
“I wish the same energy I’ve felt from the Virginia Beach leadership upon losing the festival would have been similarly channeled following the loss of my relative’s life,” he wrote.
Since the letter, the city of Virginia Beach reached a $3 million settlement with Mr. Lynch’s family while the officer who shot him was not charged.
“The city of Virginia Beach leaders have been eager to reconcile and move forward,” Pharrell said in a statement. “There is a pervasive feeling by almost everyone that the festival belongs in Virginia Beach, and the time is right to bring it back.”