VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. – Saturday, June 7, 2014. Grammy award-winning, musician, songwriter, record producer, fashion designer and entrepreneur Pharrell Williams visited his hometown, Virginia Beach to speak at his old alma mater, Princess Anne High School.
While he was in Virginia Beach, Mayor Will Sessoms honored Williams by giving him the Key to the city. Williams accepted the key while wearing a very casual attire, including a light blue denim jacket and the infamous tall, wide-brimmed Vivienne Westwood “Mountain” hat he wore at the Grammys, only in red. Mayor Sessoms also declared June 7 as “Pharrell Williams Day” for the entire state of Virginia.
During Williams return to Virginia Beach, he spoke with more than 800 students, teachers and staff at Princess Anne High School. He talked about the positive experiences that influenced and shaped his successful career.
Williams said, “Often times you hear celebrities say… ‘My teachers never thought I was never gonna be anything or they told me I couldn’t do it…so, look at me now.’ But that wasn’t my experience. My teachers here at P.A. kept telling me I could. I want you to have the same encouragement that I did. The one thing I would encourage you to do is never say ‘wanna’ just say ‘gonna.’ Because it works. Put it out there, figure out what the blueprint is…and you can do it.”
When the 41-year-old was a student, he was a member of the Princess Anne High School marching band, where he met Chad Hugo, his production partner. Hugo, Williams along with a couple of friends (ShayHaley and Mike Etheridge), created the R & B group “The Neptunes,” which gained recognition after a local talent show.
Williams admits that during his high school years he wasn’t a perfect student. “I was the guy who was sent to the principal’s office, but I was encouraged,” he shared with his audience. “That’s the kind of diligence we need. That’s why teachers should be paid more. That tender loving care led me to this place.”
“Life is like a mosaic. It’s a bunch of pieces,” Williams said. “I’m just one piece. The rest of the pieces are my teachers.”
Additionally, Williams was “Happy” to speak about the new partnership between his charity “From One Hand to AnOTHER (FOHTA)” and “Everfi, Inc,” which offers digital learning opportunities to students attending FOHTA’s Summer of Innovation Camp.