Every year, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, a world-leading institution for post-secondary study in the arts, names a new Artist in Residence. For the 50th anniversary, the school’s Artist in Residence was none other than Pharrell Williams.
“Our students and faculty will have the unique opportunity to be in conversation with an artist whose work is an inspiration and widespread. Pharrell has demonstrated a commitment to education in communities across the country. He’s dedicated to raising awareness to climate change, and he has taken ‘happiness’ from the stage and screen to people around the world through his work with the United Nations.” says Jason King, professor at Tisch.
As a resident artist, Williams would make himself accessible to students and faculty across the university for the betterment of artistic education.
“I am so honored and excited to have the opportunity to spend time with the students at NYU Tisch School for the Arts. They are among the young minds who will change this world by means of their creativity,” said Williams to Jason King.
Having an artist in residence is common to most universities, but the scope of each artist (writer, poet, singer, painter, etc.) differs quite a bit. Luckily for Tisch students, Williams took his role as resident artist very seriously, and gave many students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore their creativity with a world-renowned entertainer and producer. And lucky for us, the school recorded his interactions with the students!
Pharrell Williams listened in on many students’ recording sessions and gave them real feedback on their developing skills.
He also gave a ‘masterclass’ lecture to music students, sharing his own insights into the world of music production and entertainment.
Pharrell Williams Meets Up-and-Coming Maggie Rogers
In a special moment, one student, Maggie Rogers introduced herself to Williams. She grew up playing the banjo, listening to folk music, and enjoying the outdoors. She tells him that she “stopped making music for a couple years in the middle of school”, but rediscovered her natural talent with inspiration from French music.
The moment she starts playing her original song for him, his face lights up. You can watch him shaking his head in almost disbelief while he’s enjoying her unique sound. He even makes eye contact with the film crew like he’s in an episode of The Office and mouths “crazy”.
Meanwhile, Maggie is sitting humbly next to him looking super nervous (and we’re all just blown away by this young lady’s talent!). But by the end of the song, both of them can’t help but dance in their seats along to the beat.
When the tune is done, Williams simply says “Wow…. wow. I have zero…. zero, zero notes for that. And I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’re doing your own thing. It’s singular…. that’s such a special quality- and all of that possess that ability- but you have to be willing to seek. And you have to be willing, like, real frank in your music and your choices. … Your whole story, I can hear it in the music…. I’ve never heard anyone like you before.”
Way to go, Maggie! We can’t wait to hear what else she comes up with.