The 26-year-old rapper, born Malcolm James McCormick, died from a drug overdose in September. Grande’s single “Thank U, Next” references her famous exes, and includes the lyrics, “Wish I could say, ‘Thank you’ to Malcolm / ‘Cause he was an angel.”
While performing the song at her concert in Pittsburgh, she became choked up and was unable to sing those particular lyrics, while the audience members showed their support by applauding loudly.
Grande had paid tribute to Mac even before the show began; while the audience was getting seated at PPG Paints Arena, the rapper’s music was played.
“At Ariana Grande’s concert in Pittsburgh and she’s playing Mac Miller before then show and I honestly might cry,” tweeted user @KAYofsunshine_. “Pittsburgh misses you, Mac ❤.”
“Ariana really had a Mac Miller playlist for the music before the show and she has an empty seat reserved for him,” tweeted user @FJuanmanuel. “She’s so strong.”
Grande kicked off her Sweetener World Tour in Albany, New York in March. She is set to perform next in New York City before heading to other parts of the U.S. and then heading to perform in Europe in August.
—Reporting by Taylor Bryant