The Pittsburgh Foundation

Eliyah Roberts

Eliyah Roberts (left), promotional poster for her musical "When Paradise Falls."
Eliyah Roberts (left), promotional poster for her musical "When Paradise Falls."

Grant Amount:  $5,000 over one year
Award Category:  Planning Grant

Eliyah Roberts is a composer, lyricist and librettist who wants to see a world where little Black girls and boys can see themselves represented on stage. The $5,000 grant will be used to begin writing a musical that tells the story of a little Black girl wanting to follow her dreams and the obstacles that she overcame to achieve them. The grant will fund travel and tickets to Broadway musicals for research purposes, artist stipend and lessons with a professional composer. 

"A few years ago there was a sign that hung above a building in East Liberty that read, There Are Black People In The Future," recalls Roberts. "When I first noticed the sign I thought “duh!”, but quickly remembered that we live in a society that doesn’t value Black life. Yes there will be Black people in the future, in books, magazines, movies, TV and I as a Black, young woman who is an artist, my goal is to create works that are rooted in the Black experience."

Roberts adds that the musical she is creating is important because throughout history, Blacks are fed a limiting narrative that portrayed Black people as negative, one-dimensional stereotypes on television, on theatre stages, and on social media platforms. Black people are not monolithic. As a people we are so vastly unique, diverse and influential with plenty of untold stories to tell and share.

This creates opportunities for Black girls to see themselves on stage and encourages them to dream and imagine beyond their wildest dreams!

INSTAGRAM: @eliyah_roberts