Pharrell Williams is giving viewers an inside look at his songwriting process for “Letter to my Godfather,” a new tune he wrote for “The Black Godfather,” Netflix documentary about legendary music executive Clarence Avant.
“Clarence Avant is known as ‘The Black Godfather’ because literally as a black man, he was able to do things that were godfather-like — from the music industry, the sports industry, activism to politics,” Williams said in an exclusive behind-the-scenes feature.
Williams said he was prompted by Avant’s daughter, Nicole, to create the song after she began producing the documentary. The non-fiction film explores Avant’s rise to success after being born to a poor family in a segregated southern town in South Carolina.
Directed by Reginald Hudlin, “The Black Godfather” features appearances from various stars, influential politicians, and executives including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Diddy, Quincy Jones and Cicely Tyson. It debuted on the streaming service June 9 and was recently named best documentary of 2019 by the African-American Film Critics Association.
“Pharrell nailed it,” Nicole Avant said in the video. “Light shows up in various different ways, and I think Pharrell captures, in the song, that sometimes we just need that person to remind us that everything is going to be okay. Pharrell is such a bright light. I think he, like my father, is very aware of his purpose. He wrote the most beautiful, poignant song about my father and he exceeded everything that I could’ve expected.”
Williams adds, “The crazy thing is, I never dreamt that I would end up doing a song for him.”