The Pittsburgh Foundation

Nathan Cephas

Nathan Cephas. Image credit: Princes Gonzalez.
Nathan Cephas. Image credit: Princes Gonzalez.

2023 grant amount: $50,000 over two years

Project 1: A self-produced music Album (Debut).
Project 2: A limited-pressed photography Book/Magazine showcasing the nature of Pittsburgh.

Project 1: The art of introspection, the journey of self-discovery, the exploration of one's identity and purpose. These are the themes that will permeate Nathan Cephas's debut album, which he has been producing independently from his home for over a year. With the help of his talented friend Miles Scharff on guitar and song structure, Cephas been channeling his love for music that he inherited from his family's musical heritage into a truly unique and authentic experimental, indie R&B sound.

"As a "Black man," I've been questioning my purpose on this earth and coming to terms with who I am and what I'm here to achieve," he says. "Through this album, I aim to share my experiences and lessons learned, and to inspire colored individuals who may be struggling to find their own voice and identity in a world that seems to be cursed against them. For anyone who has ever felt like the 'ugly duckling' growing up or is searching for their own purpose, my music will provide solace and inspiration."

For Cephas, creating art is not just about the final product, but the process as well. He says that is why he has been recording this album at home, where he feels most creatively free. He believes in the DIY nature of art, and wants to show young creatives that they can do anything regardless of perceived limitations and environmental "misfortunes."

Cephas plans to have all of the recording done by 2024, and will use the spring to do final touches and have it fully completed by summer 2024.

Project 2: Proposes to showcase the vibrant and lush natural aspects of Pittsburgh through a photography project. The aim is to bring attention to the unique and thriving natural beauty of the city, which is often overshadowed by its association with sports and the steel industry. 

The project seeks to break the mold by promoting diversity in nature and wildlife photography, an area where there is a lack of representation for individuals of color. By doing so, it intends to inspire and encourage young people from underrepresented communities to care for the planet and view it as an extension of themselves, honoring the values of our ancestors.