Pharrell and Kenya Barris to create a musical on Juneteenth for Netflix

Ama Nunoo Ama Nunoo | Editor June 23, 2020

Pharrell Williams (L), Kenya Barris (R), Photo: Broadway iBold

Creator of Black-ish and its spin-offs Kenya Barris is collaborating with singer, songwriter, and producer Pharrell Williams to develop a full-on Juneteenth musical. The musical will join the likes of Beyonce’s Homecoming and Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Netflix.

Juneteenth celebrations commemorate the end of slavery in the United States and although much is not known about the feature-length musical in honor of the day, Deadline reported that this project is different from the live musical that was announced in 2018.

“Williams will produce this project with partner Mimi Valdes alongside Barris, who will produce through his production company Khalabo Ink Society,” continues the site.

Some are of the view that Juneteenth should be a national holiday as it represents the end of a significant era in the lives of African Americans in the United States. Williams reiterated his views at a press conference in Virginia with regard to his support for making Juneteenth a national holiday.

“Every year, as a nation, we mark the Fourth of July, Independence Day…But that freedom we celebrate did not include everyone,” he said. “It’s time we elevate [Juneteenth], not just a celebration by and for some Virginians, but one acknowledged and celebrated by all of us because that’s how important this event is.”

Barris has also been very vocal about the celebrations as he weaves it into the storylines of his shows. The Black-ish creator commemorated Juneteenth in season four of Black-ish as the season premiere started with an entire musical episode on Juneteenth. The characters in his other show BlackAF on Netflix also featured a Juneteenth party.

At the time, he told EW that he was “proud” of the episode because he was forced to examine the country’s horrific past. To him, commemorating the day on the show is important because it tackled how talking about slavery makes white people uncomfortable.

As Williams and Barris are both passionate about their craft and the message it sends to the world, it will be interesting to see the final musical, who they will bring on board, and how the story of Juneteenth will pour through the lyrics.