Pharrell Williams has canceled a planned music festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after criticizing the city’s leadership following the death of his cousin by police.
The rapper’s cousin, 48, Donovon Lynch, has died after being shot dead by an officer in Virginia Beach earlier this year. Several people were injured and two were killed in three separate shootings near the Virginia waterfront on March 26.
Williams was supposed to host the Something in the Water festival, but has now announced that the festival will not be held in the city in 2022.
In a letter to city manager Patrick Duhaney, Williams expressed his love for the city, but said Virginia Beach has been run by “toxic energy” for far too long.
“The toxic energy that repeatedly changed the narrative around the homicide of my cousin, Donovon 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, “Williams wrote.
The rapper’s letter came in response to a September 29 note from Duhaney expressing “immense disappointment” over Williams not restoring the music festival in 2022.
The “Happy” singer revealed that he originally brought Something in the Water to Virginia Beach 2019 in an attempt to “ease racial tensions, unify the region, create opportunities for economic development and expand the horizons of the local business community “.
“We have achieved these things! ” he wrote. “I wish the same energy that I felt from the leadership in Virginia Beach during the loss of the festival would have been channeled the same way after the loss of my parent’s life.”
According to reports, the city’s mayor, Bobby Dyer, has also contacted Williams to “hear firsthand the specific concerns he has.”
“The invitation remains open. We would love to have the opportunity to speak with him, to hear his specific concerns firsthand, ”Dyer wrote. “Moving forward with Something in the Water was one of the first major decisions I had to make after being elected in 2019. Not everyone thought it was the right thing to do, but I thought it would be good for Virginia Beach, and it was a huge success.
He added: “We lost momentum last year because of Covid, but it was our intention then, and it remains now, to host the event in 2022. We see it as a catalyst to promote positivity and that’s why the manager and I always want to talk. We hope Pharrell accepts.
The Something in the Water 2019 music festival grossed over $ 28million (£ 20.6million) and featured prominent artists like Travis Scott, J Balvin and Missy Elliot in the lineup.
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