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Davido and Adekunle Gold to Headline Pharrel’s ‘Something in the water’ music festival

Popular Nigerian musicians, Davido and Adekunle Gold have been announced to perform at Pharrel William’s music festival ‘Something in the water’, which is scheduled to run from June 17 to June 19 on DC’s National Mall.

Major music festivals in D.C. are often held on the outskirts of the city, but Pharrell Williams decided to relocate the music festival to the District after his cousin was shot and killed by a Virginia Beach police officer last year.

Williams shared his reasons for moving the festival in a letter to Virginia Beach city manager Patrick Duhaney. He wrote that the city has been “run by- and with toxic energy,” and that its leadership has focused more on the loss of the festival than on the death of his cousin. Still, the festival hasn’t turned its back on the city entirely: there will be shuttles available to transport patrons from Virginia Beach to DC and back ($50 one way, $95 round trip).

According to an announcement Tuesday, the festival, which was first held in April 2019 in Williams’s hometown of Virginia Beach, will be held June 17-19 on three stages “directly on Independence Avenue and its adjacent streets.” (Details about specific locations were not immediately available.)

“This is very special. It means a lot to me. It means a lot to my community,” Williams said in a phone interview. “I’m from the 757 [the area code for Virginia Beach and the Tidewater region] in Virginia Beach. Obviously, that’s one-third of the whole, entire DMV. There’s always been so much special energy around the DMV. The way that we love each other. … I just think it’s high time that we take our movement and everything we’re doing to our nation’s capital and really celebrate everything that Something in the Water is.”

The three-day event boasts an exciting lineup with nearly 70 hip hop, pop, and R&B artists. Grammy-nominated artists such as Chloe x Halle, Tyler the Creator, and Usher will perform alongside up-and-comers like Earthgang, Omar Apollo, and Baby Tate and of course, Nigeria’s Award-winning artistes, Davido and Adekunle Gold.

Despite the travel accommodations and impressive roster of musical acts, Virginians haven’t been too pleased with Williams’s decision. Some took it as a blow to Virginia Beach pride, and others seem to have forgotten that DC is, in fact, near water.

Speaking about the festival, Pharrel William gave a hint on what to expect this year:

“Something In The Water is a Black solution (LOVE) for a systemic issue. And this year we are taking our celebration to a higher platform — the nation’s Capital during Juneteenth Weekend. We want to show the world that there is Something In The Water across the whole DMV and I want to continue to bring awareness to the greatness within these communities and invite large corporations to show up for the people. DC has always been a deep inspiration to me as a person and a musician.

“It is the land where Go-Go music was birthed which has provided so much for our people. Our sponsors continue to go the extra mile to show that Something In The Water is so much more than a festival. The goodwill we generate is a defining trait of who we are.”

The festival, which was not held in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, started out as a love letter to Williams’s hometown. But he said in October 2021 he would no longer host the festival in the Tidewater region following Virginia Beach’s response to the police killing of his cousin Donovan Lynch in 2021, citing the “toxic energy” he found when talking with city officials, particularly Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.

Three-day passes for the festival go on sale this Saturday, April 30 at 10 AM, and start at $299.50 (plus $50 in fees). General Admission passes include one wristband for entry, and access to activities and food and drinks vendors.

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