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Pharrell Williams and Kenya Barris to Collaborate on Juneteenth-Inspired Musical

Pharrell Williams and Kenya Barris to Collaborate on Juneteenth-Inspired Musical

According to Variety, Kenya Barris and Pharrell Williams will collaborate on a stage musical about Juneteenth, the African-American holiday honoring the date that U.S. Army ships forced Texas landowners to free the last of their slaves. It is viewed as the last day of slavery in the United States.

The season four premiere of Barris' hit ABC series "Black-ish" had a musical episode that focused on an 1865 version of The Johnsons, the family at the center of the sitcom. Barris will write the libretto with Peter Saji, his "Black-ish" colleague.

Pharrell Williams will compose the music and lyrics, and produce under his company i am OTHER with partner Mimi Valdés. Saji will also produce the show.

It has been reported by Variety that the musical will focus on two different African American families, one story will unfold in the present, while the other will be set during the Civil War. The show hopes to contribute to a larger push to make Juneteenth a national or even international holiday, Barris said in a statement, saying that seeing that happen was in his "life goals column."


"For us, this project isn't about numbers; it's about humanity," said Barris. "Slavery is America's recessive gene and it's time we all dealt with it and what better way to have an audience swallow this dose of medicine than with amazing music and raw, honest, jaw dropping comedy?"

Williams released his debut solo album, In My Mind, in 2006. His second album, Girl, was released in March 2014. This album was preceded by the commercially successful single, "Happy". As part of the Neptunes, Williams has produced numerous hit singles for various recording artists. Williams has earned ten Grammy Awards including two with the Neptunes. He is also a two-time Academy Award nominee, receiving a 2014 Best Original Song nomination for "Happy" (which was featured in Despicable Me 2) and a 2017 Best Picture nomination as one of the producers of Hidden Figures. Williams owns i am OTHER, a multimedia creative collective that serves as an umbrella for all of Pharrell Williams' endeavors, including Billionaire Boys Club.

Kenya Barris is a writer and producer known for numerous television shows, including the critically acclaimed Black-ish, and briefly also co-executive produced The Game. Barris also co-created and produced America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks, as well as the blockbuster hit Girls Trip.

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Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images


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