Church-goers speak on impact of Pharrell Williams' visit at Emanuel AME

VIDEO: Church-goers speak on impact of Pharrell William's visit at Emanuel AME
Published: Nov. 2, 2015 at 12:36 AM EST|Updated: Jul. 31, 2016 at 2:22 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Grammy award-winning artist and entrepreneur, Pharrell Williams, performed his song "Freedom" at Emanuel AME Church with the choir Sunday. It's part of a campaign to create a conversation about race in America.

The A&E Network and iHeartMedia will present a two-hour special called "Shining a Light: A Concert and Conversation For Progress on Race in America" on November 20th. It will feature various artists and Pharrell's visit to Mother Emanuel will be a part of this.

"It's like him expressing how he feels about what happened at the church," says young church member, Donquinay Wright.

Williams is using his music as a platform.

"Music does something to you, it restores the soul a lot," says a church visitor from Washington, D.C., Edith Barnes.

A platform to talk about race in America with his visit to Mother Emanuel AME Church.

"With his song "Freedom," [it] just added a little bit more of what the church is trying to bring together the inclusiveness of the community," says church visitor, Kappa Smith.

The response of the Mother Emanuel Church members after nine of their own were shot and killed in June sparked an initiative with the A&E Network and iHeartMedia.

"Everyone around the world was touched by what happened here and the difficulty of understanding how this could happen," says John Parsons, who is visiting Charleston from New Jersey.

They're featuring artists, like Pharrell, engaging in the national conversation on racial inequality and violence.

"He was affected, he's here for that same purpose," says a close friend to many of the victims, Uegene Smith.

Today members of the church were joined with community members, visitors from other states and family members and friends of the nine who lost their lives.

"I don't think anybody that comes in there [the church], that goes in there, comes out the same," says Uegene Smith.

The youth members of the church say Pharrell's message on freedom and his visit will stick with them.

"I just want to thank him for coming and spend his time here," says a member of the church, Trelaya Capers.

"Because of Pharrell and his songs with happy with freedom... all is about happiness and all is about freedom, there was no perfect place than Charleston," says Kappa Smith.

Organizers of Pharrell's stay in Charleston say he will be part of a Town Hall event Monday. They say the event will be ticketed and will not be open to the public.

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