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Pharrell Williams Cancels Festival In Hometown After Shooting Of His Cousin

The Pharrell Williams-led Something In The Water festival will not be returning to the artist’s home city of Virginia Beach, due to its ‘toxic energy’.

The festival, founded by Williams in 2019, had been postponed in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, but will now no longer take place in the city at all. In a letter penned by Williams to the Virginia Beach city manager Patrick Duhaney, the artist commented on the way the city had changed in previous years.

Additionally, Williams touches on the death of his cousin Donovan Lynch, who was shot and killed by a police officer back in March. His shooting was part of a spree of shootings in Virginia Beach.

“I love my city, but for far too long it has been run by and with toxic energy,” Williams’ letter said.

“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.”

Building Number 2, is a reference to a mass shooting in 2019 that left 12 people dead. Denise Smallwood, a family member of one of the shooting victims, has praised Williams with publicly speaking out against the city.

“I want to thank Pharrell for recognising the City of Virginia Beach as toxic,” she has said.

“How many more lives have to be lost for Virginia Beach to step up and own its issues? I thought May 31 would be a wake-up call, however, Virginia Beach never changed. They continued with business as usual.”

The first edition of the Something In The Water festival featured a stellar line up of talent including A$AP Rocky, Chance The Rapper, Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Brittany Howard and more over multiple days.

“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…” Williams added.

“I don’t have a problem with the city, but I realise the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.”

There has been no further announcement of the festival’s 2022 plans.

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