Community & Government, Wellness
Waking Up to Empathy
In this lesson, Pharrell Williams takes you on a journey from his childhood to his successful days as an artist and the ways he found empathy along the way by using music to connect with others.
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars
Topics include: Case Study: “Happy” · Discovering Empathy · Shedding the Ego
Pharrell Williams and Noted Co-Instructors
Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West teach about leading life with empathy.Sign Up
[MUSIC PLAYING] - Empathy is the vehicle to self-awareness. Self-awareness is, I'm a part of something. It's a daily practice for me. It's been a journey. But you don't know until you get it. A fish doesn't know it's wet until it comes to the surface, experiences air for the first time. And then at that one point, it's like, oh, I was in this thing called water. I was a part of it. I had no idea that there was a whole other life that I couldn't perceive at the time. I think if anything, like, the way that I see empathy and the grand spectrum of like, my daily function in any discipline, I think music has warmed me up for that. [MUSIC PLAYING] (SINGING) Rocking the golden wear, ain't got a single care. - I think everybody's moment of enlightenment, when you get to that place of empathy, I think that happens for different people for different reasons. It just so happened to-- to happen to be for me-- my case was, I wrote the song for this film called "Despicable Me," the song called "Happy." This was something that I wrote and thought CeeLo was going to do it. And this was for Gru, a character who is known for being like, a disgruntled guy, and is always upset. And then his deadpan opinions about things are usually funny. But here was a song where he was supposed to be happy. I didn't know how to do that. So after like, nine submissions of songs to try to like, you know, work for the scene, that song finally gets picked. [MUSIC - PHARRELL WILLIAMS, "HAPPY"] (SINGING) Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. - High five! - Yeah! - [VOCALIZING EXPLOSION] Bump it! PHARRELL WILLIAMS: The movie comes out. We're trying to get the song to work at radio. Nothing at radio sounds like that, so radio turned it down. Everything was about like, dance music back then. You know, the song that sounded like Curtis Mayfield doing like, a church type of feel-- feeling song from the '60s, I didn't know what was going to happen. So it was only six months later is when, you know, the company was like, look, we really love this song. We know you love the song. Here's a budget for a video if you want to do one, because we have to-- for marketing purposes, for the DVD. [MUSIC - PHARRELL WILLIAMS, "HAPPY"] No way in the world we thought it was going to do what it did. (SINGING) Can't nothing, happy, bring me down, I said. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you know what happiness is to you. Because I'm happy. Clap along if you feel-- Then people all over the world started making their own "Happy" videos. Singing that song for people who would tell me, man, this got me through my cancer treatment, or man, I was severely depressed, or my mother died, and this is the song that like, she wanted played at her fun...
About the Instructor
For the first time ever on MasterClass, a diverse range of our instructors come together to talk about the power of empathy and how it can transform the way you view the world. Join Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West as they share their experiences with empathy and its importance in their lives and careers. Learn how to exercise, cultivate, and promote empathy to connect with others on a deeper, more human level.
Featured Masterclass Instructor
Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West
Pharrell Williams, Robin Arzón, Roxane Gay, Walter Mosley, Robert Reffkin, Gloria Steinem, and Cornel West teach about leading life with empathy.Explore the Class