It took about 30 seconds for New York University music student Maggie Rodgers to reduce award-winning producer Pharrell Williams to tears. And she didn’t have to say a word — it was all in her music.
The YouTube video shows Pharrell Williams, who served as the Artist-in-Residence at the Tisch School of the Arts during the 2015-2016 academic year, offering feedback to students in early March after listening to their recent works. But when it was Maggie Rodgers’ turn to show off her tune (it starts around the 18:25 mark), Williams had “zero, zero, zero notes.”
“And I’ll tell you why,” he said to her. “You’re doing your own thing. It’s singular.”
Rodgers told Williams about her experience growing up in a rural part of Maryland, which helped spark her interest in writing and performing folk music. But after a “spiritual experience” in France, she told Williams the dance music she heard played in the country inspired her to take her music in a different direction.
Williams first got involved with NYU after having a conversation with Jason King, a professor at the Clive Davis Institute of Music at the Tisch School of the Arts.
“King thought the mix of Pharrell’s artistry, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship would make him a powerful mentor and role model for recorded music students,” Koegan says.
Williams and his wife will also fund a need-based scholarship for a high school student to attend the Clive Davis Institute’s summer program, which begins this July, according to a university release.