You Won't Believe Who Marched: Pharrell Williams

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports PharrellWilliams.jpg

When you hear stories of how the ultra successful got started, they frequently point back to a moment, mentor, parent, sibling, or sometimes an old band director. For Pharrell Williams, he often talks about his time in the marching band as the launching pad for his success. 

It was the early 90s in Virginia Beach, Virginia, when Pharrell first encountered director Alan Sharps at Princess Anne High School. It wasn't long after that the two developed a special relationship with each other that lead to a lifetime of appreciation. 

null

In a interview with The Sun, Sharps talked about how Pharrell's musical talent was evident even at an early age.

"Pharrell was incredibly gifted and he loved toplay drums," Sharps said. "He'd come and sit in the stands and go through a routine that he'd thought up for the band. I'd make him go away and put it down on paper. He said later that this preparation helped him in his career."

Even now that Sharps is an assistant director at Claudia Taylor Johnson in San Antonio, Texas, Pharrell does his best to remember the band director who helped encourage his musical passion.

null

At a concert alongside Jay-Z in nearby Austin, Pharrell invited Sharps to come to the show. Then, in the middle of the concert, Pharrell turned to his percussion section on stage and said, "My drum teacher's in the audience tonight so you better play good." 

Sharps said he is honored that his teaching has made a difference in Pharrell's life. Sharps said the area of town that Pharrell was growing up in wasn't exactly the best neighborhood, but marching band helped provide a safe haven for Pharrell that allowed him to nurture his musical talents.

While Pharrell may be the bigger name, there is a third member to this amazing team.

Chad Hugo, is a record producer, instrumentalist, and the co-founder of The Neptunes alongside Pharrell. The two met in band early on in high school and never looked back. While Pharrell played percussion and marched in the drumline, Hugo developed into the drum major and learned to play saxophone, piano, and guitar.

Through all of the hit songs, world tours, and millions of dollars, Pharrell returns that honor by giving credit to Sharps and his time in marching band. Pharrell routinely praises his time in band for not only increasing his musical understanding but also instilling the self-discipline and work ethic he has used to build his successful career.

null


FloMarching's hottest content, delivered to your inbox

Don't miss breaking news, feature stories, event updates, and more. Sign up for the FloMarching mailing list today.


12 Days Of Christmas: #10 Couchmen 2018 Sweater

Zach Ashcraft Lucas Oil.jpg

In honor of the final countdown to Christmas, we've compiled a list of presents perfect for the marching arts fans in us all!

DCI 2017 In 48 Minutes

DCIUniforms.jpg

DCI recently released a series of 22 two-minute videos that showcase some of the incredible performances at this year's Drum Corps International World Championships!

12 Days Of Christmas: #11 Boston Crusaders' Wicked Games Tree Ornament

Zach Ashcraft DCI_Prelims_BostonCrusaders_Zashcraft-6.jpg

In honor of the final countdown to Christmas, we've compiled a list of presents perfect for the marching arts fans in us all!

Check Up On Upcoming Rule Changes For WGI

WGI-1-01.png

As drum corps camps move past the audition phase and fall marching band shifts over to holiday concert music, we get closer and closer to the next exciting season of marching arts: Winter Guard International!

12 Days Of Christmas: #12 Bluecoats Jagged Line Ornament

Zach Ashcraft Bluecoats-1.jpg

In honor of the final countdown to Christmas, we've compiled a list of presents perfect for the marching arts fans in us all!

Potential Rule Changes For DCI Announced

Recaps.jpg

Drum Corps International (DCI) announced Wednesday the rule change proposals made by corps directors that will be up for discussion at January's annual winter business meeting.

Q&A: Bluecoats Vet Aaron Bailie On Being Cut

Drum Corps International Bluecoats_HL1_16_HiRes_RGB.jpg

As drum corps prospects go through the audition process, more and more people get cut, contracted, or called back. One thing that many drum corps veterans can agree with is that getting cut from a drum corps is never "the end" — instead it's a beginning.

Drum Corps Europe Reborn As EDCA

KidgroveScouts2017-5.JPG

Nearly two months after discontinuing operations, Drum Corps Europe has announced its rebirth as a new association with new leadership, the European Drum Corps Association.

A Brass Player's Holiday Wish List

HerculesStand.png

Whether you're a parent looking for ideas for your young (or old) brass musician in the family, or you've just picked up an instrument and are starting your musical career, here are some items that will get you a running start on that Christmas list for 2017!

The Emotions Of Designing For Indoor Season

CGT-Dallas.jpg

As the indoor season approaches, instructors across the country are experiencing the entire rainbow of emotions as they design, write, choreograph, and stage their productions. Many times those emotions form peaks and valleys that have polarizing effects on the instructors.