Ann Hampton Callaway, Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project
The closing night concert for the 2012 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project was held on Friday, June 23, 2012. For the seventh year, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project hosted the nation's most promising songwriters across all genres including music theatre, pop, jazz, rock, and contemporary pop at Northwestern University. The night before the gala closing concert, the 16 artists showcased their latest creations. See below for photos of the songwriters and guests, including Ann Hampton Callaway and more!
Participants from the 2012 JMF Songwriters Project include Matilde Bernabei, Jeff Bienstock, Kayley Bishop, Cassie Boettcher, Andrea Daly, John Gurney, Caleb Hawley, Patrick Lundquist, Rebekah Greer Melocik, Gregory Nabours, Sarah Nisch, Jennifer Sanchez, Peter Seibert, Shaina Taub, Becky Warren and Jacob Yandura. The talented group includes the composer of a hit off-Broadway musical, the lead for an all-girl alternative.
The concert was the closing event of a weeklong intensive for emerging songwriters and writing teams ages 18-30, presented each summer on the campus of Northwestern University by the Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP).
For the Johnny Mercer Celebration Concert, the writers were tasked with sharing songs by the writers who have most inspired them, a truly inspired concept that resulted in the audience treated to a delightful array of the all-time greats from America's greatest tunesmiths.
Tony-nominated Broadway star Ann Hampton Callaway (SWING!) took to the stage to perform Cole Porter's haunting, "From This Moment On," Carol King's 'You've Got a Friend," and more. Master teachers Tony-nominated composer and lyricist Craig Carnelia and Grammy-nominated Andrew Lippa paired for Sondheim's "Finishing the Hat."
Mercer Songwriter Caleb Hawley went soulful with Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" while others chose the tunes they had created during the week long intensive. Jennifer Sanchez performed "Doin Just Fine" and Pete Seibert and J. Patrick Lundquist paired on "Way Back Home." Callaway tore up the house with Harold Arlen & Yip Harburg's "Over the Rainbow." Andrew Lippa and Northwestern students brought new meaning to Barry Manilow and Adrienne Anderson's "Could It Be Magic."
Mercer songwriters stepped to the plate again with their new tunes: John Gurney performing "Undone" and Becky Warren with "Heavy Shit." Master teacher Lari White made Oscar winning team Alan & Marilyn Bergman proud with a "Yentl" medley accompanied by Andrew Lippa on the piano.
Mercer songwriter Rebekah Melocik led a chorus of Northwestern students in Rodgers & Hart's stirring, "With a Song in My Heart." Callaway returned with her and Rolf Lovland's "I've Dreamed of You" followed by the haunting "Blues in the Night" with music by Harold Arlen & lyrics by the great Johnny Mercer.
Mercer songwriter Shaina Taub led the full company her song "Reminder" and with the spirit of Mercer very much alive in the hall - via visuals and music, the entire company closed with the classic "moon River' featuring the glorious music of Henry Mancini and the sweetly, melancholic lyrics of Johnny Mercer.
But the highlight of the evening and one that pointed to the whole creative process was Callaway's creating a tune on the spot with the aid of the Mercer Project songwriters. One after another, each songwriter contributed a new line, and the next had to repeat and create another.
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