JACKSONVILLE, Alabama – He is highly known as the “Happy” musician, or the one who attended the 2014 Grammy Awards with a striking, lumpy hat; but to a more familiar audience, he is simply known as Pharrell, the hip-hop hit-making producer who produced classic cuts for the likes of Britney Spears (“I’m a Slave 4 U”), Kelis (“Milkshake”), No Doubt (“Hella Good”) and Nelly (“Hot in Herre”) with team duo The Neptunes. Now, the N*E*R*D frontman can add another feature to his résumé: a unique patron.
While Pharrell Williams continues to work steadily in the music field with his signature futuristic beats, the “Blurred Lines” producer has been a proactive factor in generating attention for global issues with his involvement in several charitable causes.
As early as 2002, Mr. Williams served as a songwriter for the philanthropist anthem “American Prayer,” a record that featured vocals from U2’s Bono and recurring collaborator Beyoncé. The tune’s content explored the hardships AIDS-sufferers face, and saw renditions at the 2003 South African-based 46664 concert, as means to place focus on the global HIV/AIDS threat.
In 2007, the “Drop It like It’s Hot” genius would go on to produce and co-write another charity single: the Madonna-featured “Hey You.” The recording’s theme presented awareness of climate issues and saw performances throughout countries like Japan, Turkey, Brazil, Germany and Great Britain, as part of American politician Al Gore’s co-founded global benefit concert series, Live Earth.
Proceeds, specifically 25 cents per download, generated from the collaborative single would be donated to Gore’s nonprofit Alliance for Climate Protection, which focuses on eliminating climate issues through supporting plans like limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
However, it was not only “Hey You” that saw a feature at Live Earth, but Pharrell Williams himself was also featured within the concert series’ lineup, as further means to aid Al Gore’s accompanying Save Our Selves (SOS), an anti-climatic crisis program. The event would go on to accumulate more than two-billions worth of people across all seven continents throughout the summer of 2007.
Branching away from a musical approach, the Virginia native founded From One Hand to Another (FOHTA) in 2007 as a support unit for low-income communities. Inspiration for the idea derived from Pharrell Williams’ travels to impoverished global regions, where education was noted as a contributor to why such settings were “failing and falling apart,” as stated in Williams’ candid interview with “InStyle.com.”
In support of the FOHTA organization, Williams landed a charitable hosting gig in the 2007 Dewar’s 12 Celebrity Poker Challenge, where the event’s proceeds (estimating more than $10,000, according to “PokerNews”) would be donated to Williams’ nonprofit establishment and separate function Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami, which works to assist children in disadvantaged homes.
Other endeavors in favor of FOHTA would more notably include Pharrell William’s yearly development plan to implement a technologically-advanced haven for underprivileged Virginians.
The plan saw initial development in mid-2006 when media sites like “AllHipHop” indicated that Williams was in talks with Microsoft and Apple for networking support, in reference to an idea he had for a Virginia-based computer center.
In 2011, further developments detailed that the “Hollaback Girl” collaborator had revised plans to create an eco-treehouse-styled youth center, The Pharrell Williams Resource Center, with NASA as a guide for children to excel in sciences, arts, mathematics and engineering. The establishment saw an official opening on Virginia Beach grounds in 2013, according to NASA’s official website.
In addition to local communal work, Mr. “Get Lucky” has been on a global stride to raise immediate attention of alleviating climatic catastrophes.
Pharrell Williams announced on March 17, 2015 that he and United Nations Foundation, alongside Google, have teamed up in effort to reel in focus from people across the globe to take part in activities that combat poverty and climatic issues. Williams stressed to the press that this goal was globally essential, due to climate change having a treacherous impact on necessities such as food, water and shelter.
To generate attention, Williams launched a campaign aptly titled “Happy Party,” where volunteers were welcomed to submit personal photos and sign global concert series Live Earth petition, in attempts to attain one billion signatures to urge global leaders in taking “climate action now!”
So far, the movement has been backed by the likes of Pandora, where the digital radio service has since then partnered with the “Grindin’” mastermind in assembling a promotional mix-tape featuring the likes of Grammy-winning musicians Michael Jackson, Missy Elliott and John Legend to further support the cause.
As of June 2015, both Pharrell Williams and Live Earth co-founder Al Gore have announced tentative plans to kick-start the annual Live Earth series with a “surprising” lineup sometime this autumn in Paris, a crucial location that is slated to hold a global deliberation about climatic solutions within the fourth quarter of 2015.
– Jeff Varner
Sources: The Guardian, Yahoo News, PRNewswire, United Nations Foundation, Ecorazzi, InStyle.com, Inhabitat, NASA, AllHipHop, TODAY.com, Business Wire, PokerNews