Pharrell Williams and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris are developing a stage musical about Juneteenth, the holiday African Americans celebrate to mark when slavery was abolished in Texas on June 19th, 1865. Williams will compose the music, while Barris writes the libretto with Black-ish writer and producer Peter Saji.
The three writers, who will all serve as producers alongside Williams’ partner Mimi Valdés, said it will be a comedy, but did not give any plot details. Deadline reports the musical is likely to focus on an African-American family during the Civil War and another African-American family in modern times.
“I dream about projects like this,” Williams said in a statement. “Kenya and Peter are geniuses and Juneteenth will change culture and change history. We couldn’t sign up fast enough. We are thrilled to collaborate with them.”
“The acknowledgement and celebration of Juneteenth as an American and possibly international holiday is something that I would put in the life goals column for me,” Barris said in a statement. “For Peter and me to be able to team up with Pharrell on such an important project like this is something that neither of us in a billion years would have thought possible.
“For us, this project isn’t about numbers; it’s about humanity,” he continued. “Slavery is America’s recessive gene and it’s time we all dealt with it and what better way to have an audience swallow this dose of medicine than with amazing music and raw, honest, jaw-dropping comedy?”
Barris previously made the idea of a Juneteenth musical the subject of a Black-ish episode. Deadline reports that after the episode aired, Apple added Juneteenth to its iCalendar program as a holiday.