Mac Miller Fund announces recipients of its initial grants
Many former students of Hope Academy of Music and the Arts in East Liberty knew Mac Miller.
“His music was a part of their environment,” Linda Addlespurger, director of Hope Academy of Music and the Arts, said at a Friday news conference. “His death impacted them significantly. Many of them aspired to be like Miller.”
Miller, a star rapper and songwriter who grew up as Malcolm J. McCormick in Point Breeze, died in September. He continues to impact students at Hope Academy, an after-school arts education outreach program. The Mac Miller Foundation chose two nonprofits dedicated to music and the arts to receive grants from The Mac Miller Fund.
Miller’s family established the fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation after his death.
Hope Academy of Music and the Arts, which was founded by the East Liberty Presbyterian Church in 1999, will receive $50,000 to expand its Suzuki Music Program. MusiCares, a charity of the Recording Academy, will receive $50,000 to establish the MusiCares Mac Miller Legacy Fund to help young adults dealing with substance abuse.
MusiCares “provides a safety net to people in the music field in time of need, offering confidential preventative, recovery, and emergency programs to address financial, medical and personal health issues,” officials said.
The grant will enable Hope Academy to double its student enrollment to 80 for violin, cello, flute and guitar lessons.
“We are so honored and appreciative to have this grant, and to be the inaugural recipient” said Addlespurger. “It will give so many opportunities to children to experience the arts. It’s needed more than ever with the budget cuts to arts programs in schools and other places. We are super excited. We are a small group and this will have a huge impact for us. We can do so much with this money.”
Miller never forgot his Pittsburgh roots.
“He loved coming back to Pittsburgh,” his grandmother Marcia Weiss, of Shadyside, said during Friday’s news conference at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. “Malcolm was a special grandchild. These grants are a way to keep alive his love of music and to give access to the arts to people who otherwise might not be able to have this access. He would be so pleased with this.”
She talked about him being on stage as a young child at St. Bede School in Point Breeze – he learned to play the piano, guitar, drums and base by the age of 6. She also recalled a time when he recorded her talking about her marriage and love.
Her words became part of Miller’s album “The Divine Feminine.” The album featured a guest appearance from his then-girlfriend, pop singer Ariana Grande.
Miller talked about including his grandmother on the album in an interview with Billboard.com in 2016.
“I was actually in a studio in New York, and she’s in Pittsburgh,” he told Billboard. “ I told my mom, ‘Mom, I need you to go over to Nanny’s house and just put the phone down, and ask her to tell the story of her and Poppy.’ And she killed it! It was so poetic and beautiful. I cried multiple times when I first heard that.”
“Those two years were so wonderful for Malcolm and Ariana,” his grandmother said. “They had a strong relationship.”
Grande publicly grieved Miller’s death on social media.
Weiss said her grandson appreciated all forms of music, dance and acting. The past nine months have been extremely difficult for the family, she said.
“His friends have embraced all of us, especially his parents and his brother,” she said. “It hasn’t been easy, but this helps us honor and remember him in a way that he would have liked—through music.”
Hope Academy is an extension of the church, which brings music and the arts to underprivileged kids, said the Rev. Randy Bush, senior pastor, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary.
“This allows us to expand what we are doing,” Bush said. “It’s about more than music. It’s about building relationships.”
He said Miller’s mother, Karen Meyers, visited Hope Academy anonymously and liked what she saw.
Its classes teach more than music, said Mayela Taylor of Penn Hills, whose daughter Ariana Taylor, 8, attends.
“The beauty of this program is not only are the children introduced to music, it teaches them more than that,” Mayela Taylor said. “They become more confident and it builds self-esteem. I have seen that.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .