Macklemore To Receive MusiCares Award For Addiction Recovery Work

By Kelly Burch 03/22/19

The rapper has been vocal about his personal experience with addiction and recovery.

Photo via Flickr/Amanda Rhoades

Rapper and songwriter Macklemore will be the next musician to receive the annual Stevie Ray Vaughan Award from the MusiCares Foundation for his ongoing advocacy for those with substance use disorders.

Macklemore himself is in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and has been quite vocal about his own struggles with the disease.

Macklemore became widely known for his activism in 2012 with the release of his single “Same Love” with Ryan Lewis. The song voiced strong support for LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage, which was legalized in his home state of Washington that same year.

In 2012, the rapper also spoke out about his addiction issues in a short documentary by Jabari Johnsonand released the song “Starting Over,” about a relapse he suffered in 2011.

“Those three-plus years, I was so proud of,” Macklemore says in the song, “Then I threw them all away for two Styrofoam cups. The irony, everyone will think that ‘He lied to me.’ Made my sobriety so public, there's no f—ing privacy.”

Macklemore checked himself into rehab in 2008 and has been open about his experiences ever since he first topped the charts with “Thrift Shop.”

In 2016, he produced an MTV documentary on the opioid epidemic titled Prescription for Change that included conversations with then-President Obama. In the same year, he appeared at one of Obama’s weekly addresses to speak out about addiction stigma.

“When you’re going through it, it’s hard to imagine anything being worse than addiction,” he said. “But the shame and stigma associated with the disease keeps too many people from seeking the help they actually need. Addiction isn’t a personal choice or a personal failure.”

On May 16 of this year, he will perform at the MusiCares Concert for Recovery in Los Angeles, where he will be given the award. According to CEO of the Recording Academy and MusiCares, Neil Portnow, the award is well deserved.

“Macklemore’s artistic gifts are clearly recognized, as evidenced by the celebration of his music by fans all around the world,” said Portnow. “In addition to his musical contributions, we’re honoring him for what he has done since the beginning of his career—shine a light on his own struggles with addiction as a beacon of hope for those who suffer. It is a powerful testament to his talent and his generosity of spirit.”

Other Washingtonian musical artists to receive the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award include Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, and Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave. Cornell died by suicide in 2017, a tragedy that his wife attributes to his use of prescription drugs.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.