VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Pharrell Williams returned to his educational roots on Wednesday.
The Virginia Beach native joined high school bands from Virginia Beach City Public Schools for a “Battle of the Bands” event before the inaugural Something in the Water festival.
The event, called “A Celebration of Chad Hugo,” was held at Princess Anne High School’s Cavalier Stadium.
Bands from Cox, First Colonial, Green Run, Kempsville, Landstown, Ocean Lakes, Princess Anne and Salem high schools played songs by Pharrell and Hugo’s group, N.E.R.D., as well as Williams’ and Hugo’s duo group The Neptunes.
Williams went to school at Princess Anne and Hugo attended Kempsville.
Music producer and Blackstreet founder Teddy Riley, who worked with Williams and Hugo at his former Virginia Beach studio, also joined the pair on Wednesday.
Not only did Pharrell come and tell us why this weekend is groundbreaking, he also brought some of his friends.
Virginia Beach native Pusha T made a surprise appearance.
“We all got our roots here, we all get up every year basically, so it’s just good to be back here to see everybody and everybody supporting, that’s it,” said Pusha T, whose real name is Terrence LeVarr Thornton.
As the unofficial kick off to the groundbreaking event, Pharrell wanted to take time to talk about being back, but also to encourage the young musicians in the crowd.
“When everybody is looking at you saying ‘what are you doing with the clarinet? What are you doing with the French horn?’ Let me just tell you as we are sitting in the booth with Hans Zimmer and he is working on the Lion King score there were so many French horn players in there. There is a life for you as a musician,” Pharrell said to the crowd of musicians.
For his work, Hugo received the key of the city from Mayor Bobby Dyer.
“I’m shocked, I had no idea, it’s incredible, it’s an amazing thing you know. I’ve lived in Virginia Beach, it’s my home,” said Hugo.
Pharrell spearheaded the effort to organize the brand new festival — which he told 10 On Your Side in October got its name because people told him how great people from the area are and said it must be something in the water.