Singer/songwriter Pharrell Williams announced his Something In The Water music festival will not return to Virginia Beach, citing its ‘Toxic energy’.
In the letter Pharrell, sent to Virginia Beach’s City Manager Patrick Duhaney, the NERD band member said he brought the series to his hometown to ease racial tension, unify the region and bring economic development. However, he added “for far too long, it has been run by and with toxic energy.”
“The toxic energy that changed the narrative 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,” Pharrell wrote.
Pharrell’s cousin, Lynch was shot and killed by Virginia Beach police in March. The Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) said Lynch was “brandishing a handgun” before he was shot and a gun was recovered at the scene. Deshayla Harris, 29, was also killed alongside Donovan.
A criminal investigation into the shooting is ongoing along with an independent investigation by a local prosecutor and a review by the VBPD’s internal affairs unit. However, Pharrell believes there are too unanswered questions about the incident and has called for a federal investigation.
Pharrell’s letter was a response to Duhaney asking to meet with the artist and the festival’s managers before making the final decision, but Pharrell was undeterred.
“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,” Pharrell wrote.
Donna MacMillan-Whitaker, who is part of the team that organizes the event, confirmed to WTKR, a local CBS affiliate, that the 2022 Something In The Water festival would not be held in the city.
“Confirmed. Festival is not happening in Virginia Beach next year. Pharrell loves the people of Virginia Beach and wants positive change and equality for everyone. We are all disappointed, but hopefully, this can be a catalyst for positive change for our city in the future,” MacMilan-Whitaker said.