By Joanna Clay. The musician encourages South Los Angeles kids to pursue their passions as participants in a nationwide literacy program. More than 100 South Los Angeles youngsters — from third graders to high school graduates — crammed into a USC lecture hall, their eyes transfixed on the speaker. Clad in a tie-dye Metallica tee and flower-embroidered jeans, he wasn’t a typical lecturer. Pharrell Williams, the musician behind the hit song “Happy,” took to the lectern on Monday to inspire his audience to reach for the stars.
“Use your strength and your weaknesses for success,” Williams said. “We become a slave to our weaknesses. Take that insecurity to fuel you.” Students take part in Freedom Schools, a nationwide literacy program. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas) He also talked about pursuing passions. “If you can take whatever that hobby is … if you can find a vocation connected to it, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he said. The message was poignant for the youth, part of Freedom Schools, a nationwide literacy program for African-American and Latino kids from low-income families. Many come from neighborhoods where the median income is under $35,000, according to USC research.
This video was edited with all the best video shots selected in the 1950 HAPPY Video cover.
Nominated for an Academy Award in 2014, “Happy” hit number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, and has topped the charts in more than seventy-five countries worldwide. Now Pharrell Williams brings his beloved song to the youngest of readers in photographs of children across cultures celebrating what it means to be happy.
All the exuberance of the song pulses from these vibrant photographs of excited, happy kids. This is a picture book full of memorable, precious childhood moments that will move readers in the same way they were moved by the song. Take a peek inside the book at ReadHappyBook.com.
By Mary Margaret. Pharrell Williams is spreading his special brand of joy in a new way: a children’s book. The Grammy winner has turned his hit “Happy” (which was featured in Despicable Me 2 and on Williams‘ lauded album G I R L) into a picture book, and PEOPLE has the first look at the adorable cover image and back jacket. “I’m so proud of my collaboration with Penguin and to be able to share my book Happy! with all the young readers out there,”.
Williams said about the project, which will be released October 6. “I love what I do and am grateful to all the people who felt that ‘Happy‘ resonated with them. My hope is that this book inspires a child’s imagination and creativity and that it teaches the importance of being happy and true to yourself.” The book will blend illustrations and photos of children celebrating what it means to be happy.
Some scenes depicted: riding a hot air balloon into outer space, dancing with clouds, laughing with emojis and rocking out as a band. When the news of the book was announced in February, Don Weisberg, president of Penguin Young Readers, noted that the singer “has an important and inspiring message about individuality and being your best self, and we’re proud to help him share that with young children.”
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