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AMTP to Host Johnny Mercer's 'The Power of the American Popular Song'

March 14, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University, in association with the Johnny Mercer Foundation will host a weeklong summer festival on the Evanston campus titled “The Power of the American Popular Song.”

AMTP is looking for talented young songwriters or writing teams (up to the age of 30) to participate in the festival’s free workshops and master classes. Related concerts featuring guest artists will be open to the public and have an admission charge.

The festival will be held from Aug. 7 through 12 and feature some of America’s most prominent songwriters working in the tradition of the legendary Johnny Mercer. These guest artists will serve as faculty for a weeklong educational program of master classes and workshops for a jury-selected group of young composers.

In addition to working with the student writers, guest artists will give musical performances of their own material and discuss their work as songwriters during public evening presentations throughout the week. (More details and the exact locations of these ticketed public events will follow at a later date.)

One of America’s most influential and prolific songwriters, Johnny Mercer (1909-1976) wrote some of the most enduring standards of the 20th century, including “Accentuate The Positive,” “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby,” “I Remember You,” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “One For My Baby,” “Hooray For Hollywood” and “Moon River.” He wrote songs for 90 motion pictures, won four Academy Awards and wrote six Broadway shows, including “St. Louis Woman” and “Li’l Abner.” Mercer discovered and nurtured artists including Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

The week’s activities will culminate in a concert featuring the artists/faculty and the class of songwriters in a presentation of their songs, and a salute to the legacy of Johnny Mercer. The new material will explore the function of the popular song in shaping and reflecting American culture, experience and identity. Guest faculty will include songwriters Alan Bergman (“The Way We Were”), John Bucchino (“Grateful”) and Amanda McBroom (“The Rose”).

Because of the support of the Johnny Mercer Foundation there is no fee for this workshop for the approximately 16 writers/writing teams selected, though all participants must cover their own travel expenses.

Applicants will be required to submit three songs for adjudication. The current deadline for submissions is April 28. All selected participants will be notified by May 26. For an application and more information visit the American Music Theatre Project Web site at <www.amtp.northwestern.edu> or call (847) 467-0333.

The American Music Theatre Project is a new initiative at Northwestern University dedicated to the development of new musicals and the creation of exciting educational opportunities in the field of musical theatre.

The Johnny Mercer Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of the American popular song and the continuation of the tradition of Johnny Mercer’s artistry and generosity. For more information on the foundation visit <www.johnnymercerfoundation.com>.

Topics: Campus Life