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15th annual Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project seeks submissions for 2020

Applications open January 6 to March 1, 2020

EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) and the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University are seeking the nation’s most talented young songwriters and writing teams for the 15th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. The free, weeklong songwriting workshop will take place June 21 to 27 on Northwestern’s Evanston campus.

The program will accept applications through March 1 from aspiring songwriters, between the ages of 18 and 30, working in any popular music style. The application form, guidelines and full details are available online at

Master teachers Stephen Bray, Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lindy Robbins return to lead the project this summer, which culminates with the Songwriters in Concert event June 27, a performance showcase celebrating Johnny Mercer’s life and legacy and featuring the talents of program participants and the master teachers.

The program is free of charge to the accepted songwriters through the generosity of the Johnny Mercer Foundation. Participants are housed on Northwestern’s Evanston campus and receive a stipend for travel expenses and meals.

Last year, nearly 160 applicants applied for the 12 spots in the prestigious program, which has been a catalyst to the careers of many artists. Among the program alumni are Tony, Oscar and Golden Globe Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul; Fred Ebb Award winners Sam Willmott and Shaina Taub; Latin Grammy Award winners Obed Bermudez and singer/actress Jennifer Peña; and 14 Jonathan Larson Award winners, including Nikko Benson, Emily Gardner Xu Hall, Michael Kooman and Christopher Dimond.

Johnny Mercer Foundation

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. 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, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Miami); The Musical Theater Program at New Jersey 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 Heart of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program) and the Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs). For more information, please visit the Johnny Mercer Foundation website

American Music Theatre Project

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

Johnny Mercer

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 was a 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 the Johnny Mercer Foundation website.

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Songwriters Jane Bruce and Cheeyang Ng from the 2019 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at Northwestern. Photo by Justin Barbin.
Songwriters Jane Bruce and Cheeyang Ng from the 2019 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project at Northwestern. Photo by Justin Barbin.