It may have been icy cold when Pharrell Williams brought his latest hits to the Citi Concert Series on TODAY, but you wouldn't have known it from the number of fans who packed into New York City's Rockefeller Plaza.
From the moment the Grammy-winning artist stepped out in his camouflage jumpsuit and beanie, the crowd was buzzing.
Eager to catch a glimpse of the pop star – along with TODAY show hosts – they'd been lined up around the block since the crack of dawn, jockeying for position in front of the stage, bright lights, and cameras.
But happily, a small group of us were able to avoid the crowds. With our exclusive Citi VIP badges, we were swiftly escorted to a private area near the front that had easy access to a nearby bakery, its lattes, and life-affirming warmth.
All that jazz
Williams was in town to promote a biopic about three black, female NASA mathematicians whose work paved the way for astronaut John Glenn's historic orbit of the Earth.
In many ways, the film was personal for the "Happy" singer. Parts of the movie were filmed in Hampton Roads, VA, where he grew up.
Williams also served as a producer and composed its score, including the two songs he performed on Rockefeller Plaza, "Runnin'" and "I See a Victory."
From the moment the Grammy-winning artist stepped out in his camouflage jumpsuit and beanie, the crowd began to roar. But it was when he started singing the lyrics to "Runnin'" that he made a genuine connection. The Jazz Age-style song tells the story of the women's struggle against discrimination to become crucial players in one of mankind's greatest endeavors. And listening to it, we could tell what it meant to Williams.
The royal treatment
Throughout the performance, the show's hosts, who enjoy almost as much star power as the headline act, worked the crowd. Shivers would turn to smiles whenever they breezed past our section and posed for fan selfies.
After a short interview, the music again took center stage, and Williams introduced singer Kim Burrell, whom he touted as "gospel royalty."
From our vantage point, we had a perfect view as the two collaborated on "I See a Victory," a celebratory revival track. Burrell's unique voice rang out across the plaza, and at times even Williams seemed stunned by its power and warmth.
"They'll call it a mystery/But we're gonna call it victory," she belted, backed by a band and full chorus of singers. "We'll be writing history/It's gon' be victory."
15 seconds of fame
While Burrell nailed her notes, there's no denying Williams' Midas touch when it comes to writing and producing catchy hits. Having the chance to see him perform live on national TV was a fantastic treat. We even got our own screen time when an NBC news anchor walked over to our section to dance with a young girl in the front row. Who knew the only thing standing between us and 15 seconds of fame was a VIP badge?
Through Citi® Private Pass®, Citi cardmembers can receive special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events annually, including presale tickets and VIP packages to the year's hottest concerts, sporting events, and dining experiences, plus complimentary movie screenings and more. Learn more at https://www.citiprivatepass.com.