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Looking for Songwriters for 10th Annual Johnny Mercer Project

Well-known master teachers to lead residencies for emerging songwriters

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University will present the 10th Annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. The weeklong songwriting workshop for emerging songwriters and writing teams will take place from June 21 through 27, on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

The no-fee program is accepting applications from aspiring young songwriters and songwriting teams working in any popular music style through Monday, March 2. An online application, guidelines and information are available at  

Led by returning award-winning master teachers Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lari White, the week will culminate with a public concert showcasing the talents of the program participants, master teachers and will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the project.

Through the generosity of the Johnny Mercer Foundation, the program is free of charge to selected songwriters who are housed on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Participants will also receive a stipend for travel expenses and meals.

The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project hosts the nation’s most promising songwriters in musical theatre, country, Latin, rock and contemporary pop music, and continues the legacy of legendary songwriter Johnny Mercer. Mercer was a dedicated mentor to young singers and songwriters throughout his career.

Last year, more than 120 applicants applied for one of the 12 spots in the prestigious program, which has been a catalyst to the careers of many artists. Among them are Latin Grammy-winner Obed Bermudez, singer/actress Jennifer Peña, Tony Award-nominated Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Michael Koomin and Chris Dimond, Adam Gwon, Carrie Manolakos, Morgan Karr, and the award-winning Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair.


The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) is to support the discipline of songwriting in the tradition of the Great American Songbook as exemplified by the life and work of the legendary Johnny Mercer: lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. The Foundation continues Johnny’s legacy by partnering with individuals and organizations dedicated to celebrating and nourishing the disciplines he mastered and the causes he championed with his wife Ginger Mercer.

JMF has created a number of dynamic creative joint ventures with several prestigious institutions to facilitate its goals, including the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, Georgia State University Fellowship Program, Florida International University Fellowship Program, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project with Northwestern University and the Johnny Mercer Archives at Georgia State University. In addition, JMF also supports various charitable causes, including UCLA’s Art of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series. For more information visit


The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University brings together the nation’s leading artists in music theatre to work with Northwestern’s faculty and students. AMTP’s goal is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by developing and producing new musicals; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, music theatre and dance programs; and creating new connections between professional and academic communities. To learn more about AMTP, visit


The legendary Johnny Mercer (1900-1976) composed more than 1,400 songs, including “Accentuate The Positive,” “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread”); “Any Place To Hang My Hat Is Home,” “Too Marvelous For Words” and “Come Rain Or Come Shine.” He also wrote songs for 100 motion pictures and won four “Best Song” Academy Awards. A top radio personality and recording artist, he also was the co-founder and president of Capitol Records and established the Songwriters Hall of Fame with Abe Olman and Howie Richmond. For more on Mercer, visit


Craig Carnelia has had four shows produced on Broadway. Working with composer Marvin Hamlisch, he wrote the lyrics for “Sweet Smell of Success,” with book by John Guare, and “Imaginary Friends” with Nora Ephron. Hamlisch and Carnelia received Drama Desk and Tony Award nominations for their score for “Sweet Smell of Success,” and Carnelia received a Drama Desk nomination for his lyrics for “Imaginary Friends.” As both composer and lyricist, Craig wrote the score for “Is There Life After High School?” and contributed four songs to Studs Terkel’s “Working” for which he received his first Tony nomination. Off-Broadway, he wrote the music and lyrics for “Three Postcards,” with book by Craig Lucas, and he contributed to the revue “Diamonds,” directed by Hal Prince. Regional premieres include “The Good War” at Chicago’s Northlight Theatre, and “Actor, Lawyer, Indian Chief” at Goodspeed’s Norma Terris Theatre, both written with playwright-director David H. Bell. Carnelia has won a number of major songwriting awards, including the Johnny Mercer Award, the first annual Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Award and the prestigious Kleban Award. His best known songs include “Flight,” “What You’d Call a Dream,” “Just a Housewife” and “The Kid Inside.” He is currently workshopping a new musical with book writer Joe Tracz and director Stafford Arima. Carnelia has been on the council of the Dramatists Guild since 1995 and is married to Broadway actress Lisa Brescia.

Andrew Lippa wrote the theatrical oratorio “I Am Harvey Milk” that received its New York premiere in October at Lincoln Center with Kristin Chenoweth and Lippa as Harvey Milk. “Life of the Party,” an evening celebrating 20 years of his work, premiered at London’s award-winning Menier Chocolate Factory this past summer. He also wrote the Drama Desk-nominated music and lyrics for the Broadway musical “Big Fish,” the Tony-nominated music and lyrics for the Broadway musical “The Addams Family,” as well as the music for Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway play “The Farnsworth Invention.” Other musicals include the Drama Desk award winning musical “The Wild Party” (book/music/lyrics); “A Little Princess” (music); “john & jen” (music/book); “Asphalt Beach” (music and lyrics); and “You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown” (additional music/lyrics and arrangements). He is currently working on a musical adaptation of Jules Feiffer’s book “The Man In The Ceiling” with Feiffer. Accolades include a Tony and Grammy nomination, the Gilman/Gonzalez-Falla Theater Foundation Award, ASCAP’s Richard Rodgers/New Horizons Award, The Drama Desk and The Outer Critics Circle Award. Lippa serves on the board of The Dramatists Guild Fund.

Lari White enjoys a wide-ranging career as an award-winning recording artist, hit songwriter and producer, indie record label owner and actress. Her music has earned three Grammys (“The Apostle Soundtrack” and “Amazing Grace 1 and 2: A Country Tribute”), and RIAA Gold status (Wishes/RCA Records). Her most recent studio albums include “Green Eyed Soul,” hailed by the London Times as the best soul album of the year, and “My First Affair,” music from her live show at the Oak Room in New York City. As the first female producer of a male superstar, Lari made music history producing Toby Keith’s platinum album “White Trash with Money.” As a songwriter she’s had cuts by Tammy Wynette, Toby Keith and the recording group Lonestar. Her film acting credits include the blockbuster Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away” and “Country Strong” with Gwyneth Paltrow. White made her critically acclaimed Broadway debut originating the role of June in “Ring Of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash.” White has sung with the New York, Boston and Pasadena Pops, and the Atlanta and Nashville symphonies, and she performs regularly for legendary lyricists Alan and Marilyn Bergman and with Michael Feinstein. Her latest project, “The Shoe Burnin’ Anthology”  (featuring her debut as a short story author as well as her production of the spoken word and music companion CD) and her new CD “Piano Bar,” a collection of jazzy numbers with pianist Red Young, are available at

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