Pharrell Williams hasn’t stopped running … on behalf of “Letter to My Godfather,” the original song he wrote for Netflix’s “The Black Godfather,” a documentary about legendary music executive Clarence Avant. Qualifying for the Oscars as a film with a theatrical release, the Emmys as a Netflix production and the Grammys as a work of music for visual media, it was on the awards campaign circuit since its June 2019 release.
Its journey began in campaigning for an Oscar, which involved fall Q&As with Academy members; a performance at the inaugural Soundcheck event for Netflix where Williams took to the stage with a full choir; an early December appearance on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”; followed by a top-of-the-year appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” He won the Hollywood Song Award at the Hollywood Film Awards. All that promotion did get the song to the Academy Awards shortlist, but when the nominations were announced Jan. 13, its Oscar chances ended.
The song was also eligible for a Grammy nomination where Williams missed out on a chance at winning song written for visual media.
But the effort didn’t stop there as Williams turned his attention to the Sept. 20 Emmys. Since the documentary streamed on Netflix (worth noting: it was produced by Avant’s daughter Nicole, wife of Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who is pictured above with Williams), “Letter to My Godfather” secured eligibility for 2019/2020 contention. While campaigning in the form of industry events was a nonstarter thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, Williams remained visible while shifting his focus to the Black Lives Matter movement and “being a catalyst for change.” On its merit, “Letter to My Godfather” received a music and lyrics nomination at the Emmys, but lost to Labrinth’s “All of Us” from “Euphoria.”
And while “Letter to My Godfather is not the first song to ride the awards train all year, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The Recording Academy is expected to announce its 2021 nominees in late November.