Pharrell Williams intended to make a few points as he strutted down the red carpet in a multicoloured knit sweater, blue baseball cap and shades.
The Grammys on the Hill event’s 2023 Creator Honoree didn’t think he merited the honor—”So many people are more worthy than I am,” he said—but since he was given the opportunity, he made sure to take use of it.
At the Wednesday night meeting of politicians and musicians, he stated, “Shine a light on work that comes from the creators. It’s a lovely gesture. Songs transform people’s life; they help people get through the day and offer them material for songs.
Williams, however, needed to express ideas in addition to music.
Rights are crucial. Rights are in jeopardy. He continued, his voice becoming more fervent, “We need that same advocacy for women, that same support for the LGBTQIA community. Therefore, it’s a success when we can expose rights in their true light.
The Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, presents Grammys on the Hill to honour advocacy and music.
Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were also honoured alongside Williams. The Save Our Stages Act, a crucial element in the live music industry’s recovery from COVID-19-related shutdowns, the resolution designating August 11, 2021 as “Hip-Hop Celebration Day,” and efforts to assist 272 young musicians, faculty, and staff from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in escaping Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and reaching Qatar in 2021 were among the congressional honorees.
Several celebrities attended the ceremony at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C., including super-producer and Chic legend Nile Rodgers, country-soul singer Maggie Rose, recent Grammy nominee Gayle, and Fran Drescher (president of the influential entertainment union SAG-AFTRA, which also represents many performers).
Given the musicians present, remarks were followed by music and jokes about Schumer being “the second most famous Schumer” combined with speeches. Schumer is the second cousin of comedian Amy Schumer.
In the middle of her impassioned anthem, “What Are We Fighting For,” the affable Rose—who was also the emcee of the Grammys on the Hill Award Dinner—invited all 200 or so members of Congress in attendance to join her on stage. She continued to encourage them while she strummed her guitar and the house band stayed in a groove. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA), and Cassidy ultimately followed a train of politicians up there to participate in some light activity.
The singer-songwriter sat behind a keyboard to perform “If The World Was Ending” with Julia Michaels, a song that was nominated for a Grammy in 2021. He called it his “first Grammy-losing song” on the red carpet. Williams was in the audience as Saxe finished his set and congratulated him for ‘thinking beyond the box’. Saxe will once more open for John Mayer on his autumn tour.