Braille Institute Students Celebrate Two Decades of Program Support from The Johnny Mercer Foundation

Anniversary Programming Introduces Unique JMF Song-Writers Workshop and Special Events

Los Angeles – March 25, 2016–Braille Institute is celebrating two decades of support from The Johnny Mercer Foundation (JMF).   The partnership, which began in 1996, led to the creation of Braille Institute’s Johnny Mercer Music Program. Through the program’s music-based education and performance opportunities, youth and adults from Los Angeles and Orange Counties who are blind or visually impaired, discover that vision loss is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of living.  Many youth in the program (ages 8-18) have been blind since birth; most of the adults are coping with progressive age-or disease related vision loss.   

“We are proud that The Johnny Mercer Foundation has chosen to work with us for the last two decades,” says Peter Mindnich, President Braille Institute.  “Johnny Mercer’s work writing American classics such as ‘Hooray for Hollywood,’ ‘Jeepers Creepers’ and ‘Moon River’, brings smiles and good cheer to people today just as the songs did when they were first released. Our students, staff, and volunteers are proud to share the energy and passion embodied by his music.”

Special programming developed by Braille Institute and The Johnny Mercer Foundation to mark the milestone anniversary includes (but is not limited to) a:

  • Special JMF Accentuate the Positive Song-Writers Workshop (March – August) for the Johnny Mercer (JM) Youth Music Program: JMF has paired Braille Institute youth with Sari Rose Barron, Director, JMF’s Accentuate the Positive Program, Los Angeles, and Marleena Barber, Braille Institute’s Children’s Choir Director to create two original songs.  Sari and Marleena are guiding the students through sessions that encourage the students to find words to express their unique life story.  The students will write two songs that will be put to original music by an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) composer thanks again to support from The Johnny Mercer Foundation.  The student’s will record the songs professionally, with live performances later this year.
  • 20th Anniversary Johnny Mercer Music Festival Concert (March 30, 1PM – 2:30PM, Braille Institute, 741 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles): This free event features performances by youth and adults from Braille Institute’s JM Music Program. They will perform such Johnny Mercer classics as Ac-cent-tchu-ate the Positive, Moon River, Dream, Hooray for Hollywood and more.
  • First of its kind “Get Happy” Mercer and More Concert (May 15, 4PM – 6PM, Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, 4800 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, $20 general, $30 to include a special reception).  The audience will be treated to a magical performance of uplifting songs from The Great American Songbook. Additionally, there will be an exhibit by Braille Institute art students. Proceeds support Braille Institute.
  • Summer Performance (Aug. 7, Richard Nixon Memorial Library, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, 2PM – doors open at 1:30PM): Braille Institute’s JM Youth Choirs will perform with local, contemporary acapella groups.

The anniversary celebration concludes with our first ever JM Youth Music Program Alumni Concert. The program will feature performances by current and past JM Children’s Choir students.  A highlight will be the premiere of the original songs created as part of the JMF’s Accentuate the Positive Song-Writers Workshop.

“In addition to writing and performing his own songs, Johnny Mercer loved to mentor songwriters. Johnny would be proud that the Foundation is supporting the songwriting skills of the members of the Braille Institute choirs, and the Foundation is very proud of these very talented young songwriters,” said John D. Marshall, Jr., President, JMF.

Braille Institute’s JM Music Program includes: a band, The Ambassadors of Music; an all-women’s choir, The Luminaries; a mixed choir of men and women, The Kaleidoscope Singers; a celebrated Barbershop Chorus; as well as the JM Children’s Choir and JM Young Men’s Choir.  Each group is led by talented musicians and they rehearse on a regular schedule to prepare for public performances. 

“Thanks to the Johnny Mercer Foundation and Braille Institute, I feel I have a new family and a second home where I can get involved in music, which is my passion,” said Penelope Pilkenton, a member of The Luminaries.

Braille Institute is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe sight loss. It serves tens of thousands of people of all ages each year through a broad range of educational, social and recreational programs designed to help people with vision loss lead enriched and fulfilling lives. Funded entirely by private donations, all services are completely free-of-charge. Follow on Facebook at and on twitter @BrailleInst.

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 partnerships with several prestigious institutions to facilitate our goals including; the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles and Miami), The Musical Theater Program at NJPAC, 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 Art of The Brain, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (Mark Taper and Johnny Mercer Artists Program), Braille Institute (Johnny Mercer Children and Adult Choirs) and KCET TVs Cinema Series.

For more information please visit

BI Media Contact: Susan Tellem (Tellem Grody PR) 310-313-3444 x1
JMF Media Contact: Mario Sancarranco (Howard R Miller Communications) 305-573-0882

Media Contact
Company Name: Howard R. Miller Communications
Contact Person: Mario Sancarranco
Phone: 3055730882
Address:3009 NE Quayside Lane
City: Miami
State: Florida
Country: United States