Mike Posner has spent the last 11 years climbing the charts. Now the Detroit-born singer-songwriter-producer will attempt to summit the tallest mountain on Earth — Mount Everest.
But it’s about more than him, just like his six-month walk across the United States in 2019. He’s raising money for the Detroit Justice Center, a nonprofit law firm.
“They’re just doing incredible criminal justice reform work in our city,” says Posner, via Zoom from a training site in Colorado in late March. He planned to leave for Nepal on April 2 for his late-May trek.
The 33-year-old Grammy nominee — for his song “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” — has been training for a year and a half. He said walking through the Rocky Mountains inspired him to try to conquer Mount Everest.
“I walked from the Atlantic Ocean — Asbury Park, New Jersey — to the Pacific Ocean, Venice Beach, California. When I got about two-thirds of the way through, I went up and over the Rocky Mountains.
“That’s when I started to dream about Mount Everest in a real way.”
He knew it would take a lot of hard work and dedication, but it didn’t scare him away.
“But I told myself, ‘Look, I’m doing something really hard right now,’” he recalls about the walk. “The walk gave me the courage to dream about this.”
Someone else has inspired Posner as well. Posner chose the Detroit Justice Center to honor his late father, Jon Posner, who was a criminal defense attorney in Detroit for 40 years before dying in 2017. Posner’s fundraising goal is $250,000.
“After my dad passed away, I felt stuck under the weight of my own life,” Posner says on his GoFundMe page. “In 2019, I walked across America in order to find out who I was when I wasn’t ‘Mike Posner, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter.’”
He adds via Zoom, “My dad, rest his soul, passed four years ago. Before he did, he was a criminal defense attorney in Detroit.
“I’ve had the opportunity to have Zoom calls with them, and they’re doing work that would make my dad beam with joy. It’s a way for me to raise money and honor my father as well. So, for anyone reading, please donate whatever you can to our GoFundMe page.”
Posner, whose latest album is the late-2020 concept piece “Operation: Wake Up,” says he’s not necessarily putting down his music temporarily to tackle Mount Everest.
“It’s never fully on hold, and I’m always tinkering and playing and listening,” he says. “Listening is a big part of my artistic journey and discovering new music.
“Sometimes it’s old music, but it’s new to me, discovering stuff and studying it and learning it. It becomes a part of where I go on my journey.”
However, “I really have to sit down and do an album. I can’t really be thinking about Mount Everest in the back of my head and do music. Making an album is its own Mount Everest, man.”
Posner, who has homes in Colorado and suburban Detroit, is training with Dr. Jon Kedski.
“He’s basically in control of my schedule and my life,” Posner says. “He says, ‘We’re going to climb this mountain on this day and this and this and this.’
“I do other stuff in between that. Before this pandemic, it was just the two of us climbing mountains a lot. Then the pandemic hit, and we were still just outside, the two of us climbing mountains a lot. In that way, I was definitely very buffered from the pandemic.”
While packing, Posner says he’s looking forward to the spiritual, physical and fundraising climb.
“I was born in Detroit, but I grew up in Southfield, Michigan, which is a largely Black city,” says Posner, whose sister is a civil rights attorney in New Orleans. (“She’s way cooler than me.”)
“Most of my friends who lived on my street were African American. I saw some of the unfairness and injustices. All of my buddies had at least one horror story with the police before they were 18, just being harassed on varying degrees of severity.
“I certainly didn’t have a story like that. I think what drives me is what I’m passionate about.”
Just the facts
GoFundMe: mikeposner.com or gofundme.com/f/Everest
Mike Posner Twitter/Instagram: @mikeposner
Detroit Justice Center: @justcitydetroit (Twitter); @detroitjusticecenter (Instagram); detroitjustice.org