Johnny Mercer Foundation 2016 Songwriters Project Participants Announced


EVANSTON, Ill. – May 24, 2016 – Fourteen emerging professional songwriters from across the country and as far away as Central Europe will attend the 11th annual Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project at Northwestern University from June 20 to June 25,

The intensive weeklong songwriting program of master classes and workshops will culminate on the evening of June 25 in “Songwriters in Concert,” a public showcase of new works by the program’s participants.

The JMF Songwriters Project hosted by the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University on the University’s Evanston campus has helped cultivate the talents of Tony Award-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Fred Ebb Award-winner Sam Willmot, Jonathan Larson Award-winner Nikko Benson, and Latin Grammy Award-winners Obed Bermudez and Jennifer Pena.

This year’s selected participants – which include an international songwriting team from Hungary – write in a variety of genres that range from contemporary pop and folk to neo-soul, music theatre and jazz.

The 2016 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project participants are Kate Douglas, Joseph Evans, Emily Hall Gardner, Alina John, Alexis Kesselman, Alice Kim, Linda Kiraly, Kata Kozma, Grace McLean, Jesse Ruben, Phillip Smith, Zach Spound, Matthew Wang and Matt Webster.

For full bios, visit

Chosen from a record-breaking competitive pool of applicants, the 2016 participants will work with a trio of returning master teachers, including Tony Award-nominated composers and lyricists Andrew Lippa and Craig Carnelia, and three-time Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Lari White.

Thanks to the generosity of The Johnny Mercer Foundation, participants attend the program at no charge and housing and travel are covered.

The 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25 concert will kick off Northwestern’s Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts’ 2016 SummerStage seasonat the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Single tickets are $10 to $30 and are available for purchase through the Wirtz Center Box Office at 847-491-7282 or

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 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 the foundation’s goals, including the Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut; Accentuate The Positive Programs (New York-Kaufman Music Center, Los Angeles and Miami); The Musical Theater Program at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark; 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) in Southern California and KCET TV’s Cinema Series in Los Angeles.

For more information, visit

American Music Theatre Project 

The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University brings together the nation’s leading artists in music theatre to work with Northwestern’s faculty and students. AMTP’s goal is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by developing and producing new musicals; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, music theatre and dance programs; and creating new connections between professional and academic communities.

To learn more about AMTP, visit


Source contact: Joel Solari, manager of marketing and communications, Northwestern University’s Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts at 847-467-2426 or

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