Skip to main content

16th annual Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project seeks submissions

Applications accepted Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2021 for virtual workshops in June

Singer-songwriters participate in the virtual 2020 Songwriters Project
Singer-songwriters participate in the virtual 2020 Songwriters Project

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 16th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project. The free weeklong songwriting workshop will take place virtually from June 20-26, 2021.

The program will accept applications from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, 2021, 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 the ​Project’s website​.

After successfully transitioning to the medium of Zoom for a week of master classes and writing sessions, last year’s project culminated in the ​Songwriters in Virtual Concert​, which is still available to stream on YouTube​. Songwriters and master teachers participated remotely from 15 different cities across the U.S. and England. Recently, 2020 participant Joriah Kwamé received the prestigious 2020 Cole Porter Award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

“Although we are in the midst of the pandemic, maintaining a sense of community and self-expression is so important right now,” said Jonathan Brielle, executive vice president of JMF. “Our master teachers gracefully adapted last year, and collaborations took place from thousands of miles apart. We look forward to another great year hearing the diverse, new voices of tomorrow.”

The program honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer by fostering the tradition of mentorship that Johnny was committed to throughout his career. Master teachers have included award-winning artists Stephen Bray, Craig Carnelia, Marcy Heisler, Jon Lind, Andrew Lippa, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda McBroom, Shelly Peiken, Lindy Robbins, Lari White and David Zippel. The project culminates with the livestreamed Songwriters in Concert event, a performance showcase celebrating Johnny Mercer’s life and legacy, featuring the talents of program participants.

The program is free-of-charge to selected songwriters through the generosity of JMF. Last year, over 180 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, Shaina Taub, Ben Bonnema and Christopher Staskel; 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.


Back to top