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Pharrell Williams - Berklee College of Music Commencement Address 2021

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Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes delivers his commencement speech for the 2021 Berklee College of Music virtual graduation ceremony. Williams received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

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Pharrell Williams
Visionary recording artist, producer, songwriter, philanthropist, fashion designer, and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams has been a creative force in the music industry and beyond for more than two decades. From his beginnings as a teenage prodigy and multi-instrumentalist in the early 1990s to being named Billboard’s Producer of the Decade in 2010 (as a member of the Neptunes with Chad Hugo) to his current status as multimedia superstar, Williams has never stopped creating. The music industry has honored Williams with 13 Grammy Awards, including three awards for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ prestigious Golden Note Award in 2012. In 2014, his original song “Happy,” featured in the film Despicable Me 2, received an Academy Award nomination and remained atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 consecutive weeks. In 2017, Williams received an Academy Award nomination as one of the producers for Hidden Figures, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for coscoring the film. In 2019, he founded Yellow, a nonprofit working to even the odds for all youth through education. Williams has excelled as a fashion designer with his Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream apparel brands, the textile company Bionic Yarn, and collaborations with Adidas and Chanel. In April 2019, Williams launched Something in the Water, a multiday music festival and cultural experience to unite the community and celebrate the diversity and magic of Virginia Beach. In June 2019, he released "Letter to My Godfather," an Emmy-nominated original song for Netflix’s Black Godfather honoring legendary music executive Clarence Avant. Williams also produced five songs on the soundtrack for Disney’s 2019 remake of The Lion King. Last fall, he and David Grutman opened a restaurant and cocktail lounge called Swan and Bar Bevy in Miami’s Design District. Williams and Grutman also collaborated to open the Goodtime Hotel in Miami earlier this year. In 2020, Williams launched Black Ambition, a nonprofit initiative to provide a bridge to success for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs launching tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products/services start-ups. In November 2020, Williams announced his newest venture, Humanrace, a skincare line. He recently collaborated with Jay-Z on “Entrepreneur,” a song celebrating and empowering Black entrepreneurs. A longtime advocate for racial justice, Williams was an integral part in the talks with Virginia Governor Ralph Northam about Juneteenth being a permanent paid state holiday.
Pharrell williams, honorary doctorate, berklee
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