A couple of months ago, Pharrell Williams hosted a masterclass for music students at The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Joined by Dean Allyson Dean and Professors Bob Power and Jason King, the music pioneer listened to students’ musical projects, offered positive criticism and spoke about everything that goes into a truly beneficial creative process.
What he probably wasn’t counting on, though, was discovering an incredible musical talent with such a unique voice and powerful point of view in the midst of a group of young creatives. Pharrell Williams has a truly priceless reaction to a university student’s music.
With high school kids from the Future Music Moguls, a free high school program at Clive Davis Institute observing the masterclass as well, Pharrell listened to demos from some aspiring young musicians hoping to make a path for themselves in the music industry. First up, Noah Yoo and Sedona Schat formed the musical duo Cafune, a group focused “proving that pop music doesn’t have to be dumbed down.”
They played the track “Don’t You Forget”, a lush and upbeat pop track that was certainly complex and exciting enough, but was lacking any real depth or focus. Pharrell was pretty kind with his words, but you could tell he wasn’t particularly blown away.
Next up was Saba Jenga, a female hip hop artist who plays “Daddy Issues” for Pharrell, an energetic and melodic track with interesting subject matter, as well as dense and complex lyricism that’s missing from a great deal of hip-hop. It’s a cool track, but one that lacks overall direction and the melodies are kind of all over the place. I’d say Pharrell was feeling it more than the first one though, so there was definite progress.
Then along comes Maggie Rogers, a young woman who chose to combine her long lasting love of folk and melody with her newfound passion and adoration for dance music. She speaks like a true artist, aware of herself and of the purpose and direction the music she’s creating has. After speaking so profoundly and getting Pharrell all excited to feast his ears on the track, there was a lot to live up to. Listen to the track below and try to resist smiling as you see Pharrell completely lose himself in the song, bobbing his head, gleefully smiling and shaking his head in disbelief as the music unfolds.