Something in the Water: Virginia-Born Musicians Return for an Epic Music Festival

by Ryan Trapp | Posted: Mar 27, 2019 | Updated: Feb 24, 2020

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Pharrell’s new music and culture festival in Virginia Beach, Something in the Water, features a bevy of homegrown talent. Here are some Virginia artists you can catch on the beach April 26-28th!


Dave Matthews Band


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Matthews moved to Charlottesville, Virginia from South Africa after he graduated high school and settled in as a bartender at a local jazz club called Miller’s where he decided to start his own band. After playing local fraternities and clubs, The Dave Matthews Band developed a devoted following in the college community – and the rest is history; Nine studio albums, more than a dozen Grammy nominations and the highest earnings of any act in North America from 2000-2010. Matthews purchased Blenheim farm in 2009, which is located less than half an hour from downtown Charlottesville, and opened Blenheim Vineyards the following year.




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From Hampton’s Coliseum Mall to Coachella and everywhere in between – D.R.A.M.’s success story is anything but conventional. Born Shelley Marshaun Massenburg-Smith in Germany, D.R.A.M. and his mother moved to the United States before his first birthday and settled in Hampton, Virginia. After graduating high school in 2005, he spent four years working at a local call center before deciding to focus on a career in music. With a $100 mic, the exploratory artist churned out nearly one hundred hip-hop singles while supporting himself as a member of the Geek Squad at the Best Buy outlet in Newport News. His first taste of success came with “Cha Cha,” which went viral after Beyonce posted a video of herself singing and dancing to the hit single. He scored another hit with the single “Broccoli,” which peaked at number five on the US Billboard Hot 100.




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We don’t know much about the personal life of Leikeli47, who has been very private about her background since making her hip hop debut in 2010. Growing up she split her time between Brooklyn, NY and Virginia, and you can hear the blend of musical stylings in her sound. Performing behind her trademark balaclava, Leikeli’s empowering performances are a blend of southern, city and Caribbean roots that are as infectious as they are raucous.  Her second studio album, Acrylic, was released in 2018 to critical acclaim. The record is the second part of a planned music trilogy she’s dubbed the “Beauty Series.”




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Singer, rapper, beatboxer, saxophonist, drummer, pianist, guitarist, bassist, cellist, trumpeter, trombonist… the resume of Micah Davis stretches on longer than his lanky 6’5” frame. Born in Kingston, Jamaica to a military family, Davis settled in Newport News, Virginia at an early age. As both of his parents were pastors, he developed his musical talent performing in the church band. After dropping out of Old Dominion University to focus on music, he pioneered the musical style known as “trap house jazz”, which has gone on to receive international acclaim. Deeply connected to his African-roots, he took on the stage name Masego, which means “blessings” in Setswana.


Missy Elliott


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Missy Elliott is one of the entertaining musical performers in the game today. Born in Portsmouth, Virginia, the future Grammy Award-winner kicked off her career writing and producing with childhood friend and neighbor Timothy Mosley, better known by his moniker Timbaland. After a couple false starts with groups like Sista and Swing Mob, the songwriting duo gained some traction with their work on Aaliyah’s 1996 album One in a Million. But the tandem really broke through with the platinum-selling album Supa Dupa Fly, which launched Missy’s solo career and vaulted her into hip hop and R&B royalty. A true pioneer within the industry, Missy became the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and is the best-selling female rapper of all time.


Pharrell Williams


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Few artists have the list of accolades and accomplishments that Pharrell Williams has to his name. A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, Williams and his childhood friends Chad Hugo, Shay Haley and Mike Etheridge formed a four piece hip hop group which they called The Neptunes. Soon after, Williams and Hugo established themselves as a production duo with the same name, and would go on to work with artists like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jay-Z, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke and Usher. The tandem reunited with Haley in 1999 to form the hip hop/rock band N*E*R*D, and the group has gone on to release five studio albums. In addition to a successful solo career that includes the critically-acclaimed and commercial juggernaut album Girl, Williams has earned 10 Grammy Awards and is a two-time Academy Award nominee for “Happy” and his work on Hidden Figures.


Pusha T


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Born in the Bronx but raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Terrance Thornton was a force in the area’s hip hop scene. Alongside his brother Gene, who took the stage name Malice, the two formed the hip-hop duo Clipse and quickly caught the attention of local producer Pharrell Williams in 1997. Over the next decade, the group went on to release four studio albums to a great deal of critical approval. Going solo in 2010, Pusha signed on with Kanye West’s GOOD Music label with whom he’s released three albums to universal praise. His most recent studio release, Daytona, was nominated for “Best Rap Album” at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards and is widely considered among the best albums of 2018.


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