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Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project participants announced

16th annual program will gather songwriters from around the globe June 20-26
The 2021 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project Participants

The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) and the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University will continue their partnership with the 16th annual Songwriters Project. Participants from around the world, including the U.S., U.K. and Tanzania, will take part in an intensive week-long program of virtual master classes and workshops from their homes.

The program will be presented in an all-digital format from June 20-26, with a virtual concert showcasing the songwriters’ work slated to premiere in July.

This year, over 200 applicants, hailing from 13 countries, including the U.S., Poland, Abu Dhabi, Italy, England, Sweden, Portugal, Canada, Japan, China, Turkey, Brazil and the Netherlands, applied for the 13 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 (“La La Land,” “Dear Evan Hansen”). Recently, 2020 participant Joriah Kwamé received the 2020 Cole Porter Award from ASCAP, and 2010 participant Benjamin Scheuer received the 2021 Kleban Prize in Musical Theatre. 

The 2021 Songwriters Project participants, ranging in age from 20 to 30, are Arie Abija (Richmond, Va.); Charlotte Morris (Nashville, Tenn.); é boylan (New York, N.Y.); Enid Mollel (Arusha, Tanzania); J. Quinton Johnson (Athens, Texas); Jasmine Forsberg (New York, N.Y.); Jordan Reynolds (Los Angeles); Nakeem (Reynolds, Ga.); Michael Shofi (Jersey City, N.J.); Sofie Zamchick (New York, N.Y.); and songwriting duos Barrett Riggins (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Graham Techler (Brooklyn, N.Y.); Jude Obermüller (Brighton, England) and David Gomez (Lenexa, Kansas); and Noah Sunday-Lefkowitz (Glendale, Calif.) and Emma Lockwood (Orlando, Fla.).

“We had an unprecedented number of applications from all over the world this year and with the advances in accessibility to home studio recording, applicants’ demos have become stronger and stronger,” said Jonathan Brielle, executive vice president of JMF. “We are so pleased that it has given us a particularly great group of diverse writers and can't wait to hear their new songs after working with our master teachers!”

The 16 emerging songwriters will spend the week with Tony and Grammy Award-nominated master teachers. The program is offered free-of-charge to selected songwriters through the generosity of the Johnny Mercer Foundation.

The 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: 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 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. JMF also supports the Johnny Mercer Music Programs (Johnny Mercer Youth and Adult Choirs) at the Braille Institute. 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 theater 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 theater 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 theater 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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