Pharrell Williams, Spotify’s Newest Curator, Shares His Inspirations and Views on Race in America

The singer created playlists and videos for Black History Is Happening Now

Pharrell Williams curates the newest installment of Spotify's Black History Is Happening Now series. Spotify
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In March, Spotify and the creative collective Saturday Morning launched Black History Is Happening Now with a central purpose: to encourage a yearlong celebration of the cultural and historical influence of African Americans.

The multimedia campaign aims to amplify stories centering on the black experience through video, podcasts and music, which will all showcase on the streaming platform. Award-winning artist, songwriter and actress Janelle Monáe helped roll out the initiative as its first featured artist, handpicking a number of playlists that outlined her musical influences and starring in a short video about her love of Afrofuturism.

For the second volume, Spotify and Saturday Morning have enlisted the help of Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams as their next curator.

Williams’ Black History Is Happening Now hub includes three short videos directed by his longtime collaborator and Prettybird cofounder, Paul Hunter. The clips—titled “Pharrell is Black History,” “A Very Serious Force” and “Something Awakening”—highlight his perspective on the impact of black culture, the historic power of black women and the resilience of the human condition.

In conjunction with visual content, Williams has selected a few playlists that emphasize his specific impact throughout the entertainment industry and his influences. One section of playlists serves as his homage to the black female artists who inspire him, including H.E.R., Solange, Rihanna and Mette Towley, a dancer who has starred in some of N.E.R.D’s recent music videos.

Spotify is committed to supporting black creatives outside of the campaign, as well. With the help of their employee resources group, BLK@Spotify, the platform will search for three innovative black female creators in literature, film and visual arts. These women will receive funding and additional support for original work that promotes the idea that black women, in Pharrell’s words, are “a very serious force.” Their resulting content will launch early this fall.

Volume 2 of Black History Is Happening Now is available on Spotify.

Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.