Pharrell Williams and his uncle Bishop Ezekiel Williams are bringing light to these uncertain times through art. During the Get Lifted program at the 2020 virtual ESSENCE Festival of Culture, the pair joined Devon Franklin to discuss why they feel compelled to use their talents now more than ever.
“In this difficult time, every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the father of lights. And at the end of the day, it’s during the difficult times that those who are creative are able to produce some of the most ingenious things that we will ever witness,” says Bishop Williams.
“Your creativity is a gift. And because it’s a gift, it’s meant to be shared,” says Pharrell Williams.
In a new Netflix docuseries called Voices of Fire, the two share the gifts of their home state, Virginia. The show will follow the journey of the bishop and his central team of faith leaders at Faith World Ministries as they seek out undiscovered talent to help build their gospel choir. As they look for singers to ignite the spirits of the community, they will offer inspiration in a time of uncertainty.
“Those who write songs. Those who make movies to get their point across. This is your time. This is the time where you will shine,” adds Bishop Williams. “During this pandemic, when, when the world really doesn’t have the answer and they don’t know what else to do, I think this is the time where we turn on those gifts, where we turn on our faith and we trust God as we’ve always done.”
“And it’s up to you, but I just feel like there’s a compulsion in anyone who’s creative to be inspired by these moments. And at the very least, do something or create something that is a reflection of, of what you’re feeling,” says Pharrell. “It could be a reflection of the problems. It could be a reflection of the solution. It could be a reflection of your pontification.”
After a period of unrest in Virginia, he created the Something in the Water Festival to “unite, uplift, offer hope, victory, fun and faith.”
The two advocated for finding your own way to use your gifts to create change.
“God gave us free will and he didn’t try to tell us what to do with it. Right? So he’s not going to tell you what to do with your gift either,” says Pharrell.