The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF) and the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University will proceed with plans for the 15th annual Songwriters Project, recently announcing two Belmont students as participants: senior Kate Cosentino and Calista Garcia. Despite the cancellation of in-person gatherings because of COVID-19 concerns, the intensive songwriting camp, master classes and workshops honoring the legacy of Johnny Mercer will take place online from June 21-27.
More than 180 applicants, between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, applied for the 12 spots in the prestigious program. The program is free-of-charge to selected songwriters through the generosity of the Johnny Mercer Foundation.
Cosentino said she is excited about the experience of joining the 15 emerging songwriters to spend the week with Tony and Grammy Award-nominated master teachers Stephen Bray, Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa and Lindy Robbins. “I am hoping they can shine a light on how to make being an artist and a songwriter my full time career-especially since I am graduating this December,” she said. “I am also so excited to meet my fellow writers, be inspired by their work and collaborate with them.”
The Songwriters Project 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”). Other alumni have been honored with a Latin Grammy Award, a Fred Ebb Award, a Lucille Lortel Award and 14 individual Jonathan Larson Awards.
Garcia said she was particularly interested knowing that many of the participants write for musical theatre, as well as contemporary songwriting. “I have written and composed for a few musical theater projects, including a rock musical I wrote called ‘Crystal Skies’ which is a finalist for this year’s Eugene O’Neill National Musical Theatre Conference,” she explained. “So this project is uniquely suited to combine my interests in both these areas. I am looking forward to collaborating with these incredibly talented artists from all over the world and learning from the amazing faculty. I’m so grateful the program was able to continue online this summer!”
Jonathan Brielle, executive vice president of JMF, said, “Given the virtual format of this year’s program, participants will be able to receive an even greater focus on lyric details. We are excited to be able to continue Johnny Mercer’s gift of collaboration during these difficult times.”
About the 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 our 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 NJPAC, the Musical Theater Program at the Alliance Theatre (Atlanta), 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 supports the Braille Institute’s Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs.
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 theater, music theater and dance programs.
The legendary Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) composed more than 1,400 songs, including “Accentuate the Positive,” “Fools Rush in (Where Angels Fear to Tread),” “Any Place I 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.