Black-ish creator Kenya Barris and Grammy-winning producer Pharrell Williams will produce a new stage musical inspired by Juneteenth, the African American holiday tradition that honors the United States’ abolition of slavery.
Barris will write the libretto with Peter Saji (Black-ish), with Williams set to compose and producer the score with partner Mimi Valdés. Saji will also produce. The full musical was inspired by the 2017 Black-ish episode “Juneteenth: The Musical.”
The show is expected to focus on two different African American families, with one story set in contemporary times and the other in the Civil War era. Juneteenth marks the June 19, 1865, date that U.S. Army ships forced Texas landowners to free the last of their slaves, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
“The acknowledgment 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. 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?”
"I dream about projects like this. 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,” Williams added.