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10th Anniversary Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project

June 27 concert will showcase 15 national songwriters plus master teachers and project alumni
  • Annual project continues the legacy of legendary songwriter and mentor Johnny Mercer
  • Weeklong program of master classes and workshops culminates in “Songwriters In Concert”
  • Mercer wrote hundreds of timeless standards, including “Moon River” and “Glow Worm” 
  • 2015 master teachers Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lari White to visit Northwestern

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University and The Johnny Mercer Foundation will celebrate the 10th anniversary of The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project with 15 emerging professional songwriters from across the country, three award-winning master teachers and Mercer Songwriters Project alumni guests.

The 2015 master teachers are popular Broadway and cabaret singer/songwriter Craig Carnelia; Tony and Grammy Award-nominated composer Andrew Lippa; and three-time Grammy Award-winning recording artist, hit songwriter and producer and indie record label owner Lari White. (For more information on all three, visit

The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project hosts the nation’s most promising young songwriters in musical theatre, country, Latin, rock and contemporary pop music, and continues the legacy of legendary songwriter Johnny Mercer. Mercer wrote more than 1,400 songs, including hundreds of timeless standards such as “That Old Black Magic,” “Glow Worm,” “Days Of Wine And Roses” and “Moon River.” For more on Mercer, visit

The weeklong program of master classes and workshops will culminate in “Songwriters In Concert.” This showcase of new works by the project’s participants will be a part of Northwestern University’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts’ 2015 SummerStage 2015 season.

The 8 p.m. Saturday, June 27 concert will take place at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. Single tickets are $5 to $30 and are available for purchase through the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282 or online at

“In addition to being a wonderful songwriter and performer, Johnny Mercer was a mentor,” said John D. Marshall, Jr., chairman of the board and president of The Johnny Mercer Foundation. “There are many well-known songwriters whose careers were successful because Johnny took the time to help them hone their craft. Over the last 10-year period, 145 aspiring songwriters have worked with established songwriters to develop their skills. We are pleased that Johnny Mercer, through the Foundation, continues to mentor successful songwriters.”

Master teachers Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lari White will host the June 27 concert. The program will feature the 2015 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project participants: Nikko Benson and Benjamin Halstead, Ty Defoe and Tidtaya Sinutoke,

Bonnie Dymond, Emily Goldman and Sara Nicholson, Alana Grossman, Johann Hedemann, Anh Le, Madeline Myers, Zak Sandler, Heath Saunders, Jacob Snider and Celeste Tauchar. For full bios, visit

Also included in the concert as special alumni guests are Drama Desk-nominated Joe Kinosian and Kellen Blair, co-creators of the Joseph Jefferson “Jeff” Award-Winning “Murder For Two” (Second Stage Theatre, New World Stages, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre). 

“Our week at the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project was truly one of the most inspiring experiences of our career,” the project alumni said in a group statement. “We couldn't be more excited to be heading back to help celebrate this milestone!”

Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project alumni include Tony Award-nominated songwriters and songwriting teams Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Kleban Prize and Fred Ebb Award-winner Sam Willmott; the Jonathan Larson Grant-recipients Tim Rosser and Charlie Sohne; and Latin Grammy Award-winners Obed Bermudez and Jennifer Peña.


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 and his wife Ginger Mercer championed.

The 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 at the New York-Kaufman Music Center in Los Angeles and Miami; The Musical Theater Program at the New York Performing Arts Center; 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’s Johnny Mercer Children’s 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 and music theatre departments and dance program; and creating new connections between professional and academic communities. To learn more about AMTP, visit