Pharrell Williams has canceled his Something in the Water music festival in his hometown of Virginia Beach, citing “toxic energy” following the shooting death of his cousin by a local police officer earlier this year.
The Grammy award-winning producer shared his thoughts about his city in a letter to city manager Patrick Duhaney. His note came as a response to a letter written by Duhaney on Sept. 29, where he shared his “immense disappointment” that Williams was considering not putting on the festival in 2022, NBC affiliate WAVY reported.
The second iteration was canceled due to COVID-19.
Something in the Water was first introduced to the VA Beach area in 2019 to “ease racial tension, to unify the region, bring about economic development opportunities and broaden the horizons of the local business community,” Williams wrote in part in his letter.
The festival was a success two years ago and included a lineup with Missy Elliott, Travis Scott, and J Balvin. Duhaney reportedly shared that more than $24 million were funneled into the local community as a result.
“The toxic energy that changed the narrative several times 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,” the 48-year-old wrote, according to PEOPLE.
In 2019 a mass shooting at a local municipal building in Virginia Beach left 12 people dead, CBS reported.
Adding, “Until the gatekeepers and the powers-that-be consider the citizens and the consumer base, and no longer view the idea of human rights for all as a controversial idea… I don’t have any problems with the city, but I realize the city hasn’t valued my proposed solutions, either.”
BET previously reported that in March 2021, the “Happy” singer’s cousin Donovan Lynch, 25, was shot and killed due to gun violence in the city.
“The loss of these lives is a tragedy beyond measure,” Williams captioned his Instagram post, which has since been deleted. “My cousin Donovan was killed during the shootings. He was a bright light and someone who always showed up for others.”
Bad Girls Club cast member Deshayla E. Harris was also killed.
According to PEOPLE, Mayor Bobby Dyer has reached out to Williams to see if he will re-consider bringing the festival back.
“The invitation remains open. We would welcome the opportunity to talk with him, to hear first-hand the specific concerns he has,” Dyer wrote. “Going 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 believed it would be good for Virginia Beach, and it was a huge success.”
He continued: “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 for promoting positivity and that’s why the manager and I still want to talk. We’re hopeful Pharrell will accept.”