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16th annual Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project seeks submissions

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

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 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.

Johnny Mercer Foundation

The mission of the Johnny Mercer Foundation 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, a lyricist, composer, performer, collaborator and producer. The Foundation continues Mercer’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 Grove at Goodspeed Musicals; Accentuate the Positive Programs (New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta); The Musical Theater Program at New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Georgia State 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 the Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Youth 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 partners leading artists in music theatre with Northwestern’s faculty, staff and students to develop new musicals, bridging the educational and professional worlds through uniquely tailored new work processes. AMTP’s goal is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by supporting writers in their early stages of development, creating new connections between the professional and academic communities, and increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, music theatre and dance programs.

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