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Broadway Stars to Light Up Stage in Johnny Mercer Celebration

Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, Andrew Lippa, Lari White to perform

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June 12, 2012 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A stellar line-up will gather on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus as Tony-nominated Broadway star Ann Hampton Callaway, known as the “singer who stills the room,” shares the stage with award-winning guest artists. They will perform songs by the writers who have most inspired them, from George Gershwin to Paul McCartney.

“The Johnny Mercer Celebration Concert” at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 23, will also feature Tony-nominated composer and lyricist Craig Carnelia, Grammy-nominated composer and lyricist Andrew Lippa and Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Lari White. Through audio and video, the late Mercer himself will make an appearance and reveal which writers most inspired him.

Presented by The Johnny Mercer Foundation in association with the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University, this one-night-only event will take place at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall, 50 Arts Circle Drive.

A champion of the great American Songbook, Callaway possesses gifts as a singer, pianist, composer, lyricist, arranger, actress, educator, TV host and producer that have made her an outstanding voice in music today. A Theater World Award-winner and Tony nominee for her starring role in the Broadway musical “SWING!” she gained international exposure for writing and singing the theme song for the hit TV series “The Nanny.”

“Ann Hampton Callaway is one of the country’s most thrilling performers and a songwriter herself, so we couldn’t be more excited that she’s joining us to share songs by some of the writers who’ve most inspired her for the closing event of this year’s Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project,” said Heather Schmucker, producing director for AMTP.

The concert’s focus on writers who inspire came about during a review of applications from emerging songwriters for this year’s project. 

“We were blown away by the range and diversity of songwriting inspirations mentioned in the applications -- from some of the giants of the classic American songbook to today’s contemporary writers,” added Schmucker. “It’s a delight to share those voices with our audience.”

The June 23 Celebration Concert marks the end of a weeklong songwriting workshop for emerging songwriters and writing teams from all over the country. Participants from the 2012 Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project include a one-time American Idol contestant, the composer of a hit off-Broadway musical, the lead for an all-girl alternative country group and a veteran of film scoring. They, too, will perform some of their original works as part of the concert’s program.

“The Johnny Mercer Celebration Concert” is part of the Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University’s 2012 SummerStage season. Single tickets are $10 to $40 and group discounts are available. Tickets and subscriptions are available through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online at www.tic.northwestern.edu.           

ANN HAMPTON CALLAWAY

Born in Chicago to an illustrious musical family, Callaway has a heartfelt singing style that blends jazz and traditional pop. She is a mainstay in concert halls, theaters and jazz clubs, as well as in the recording studio, on television and in film. The only composer to have collaborated with Cole Porter, she has also written songs with Carole King, Rolf Lovland, Barbara Carroll and many other artists. (Editor’s note: Ann’s father was Chicago’s legendary TV and radio journalist John Callaway. Her mother, Shirley Callaway, is a singer, pianist and one of New York’s most in-demand vocal coaches. Her sister Liz Callaway, is a Tony-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Broadway actress, singer and recording artist.) For more on Callaway, visit www.annhamptoncallaway.com/.

CRAIG CARNELIA

Carnelia is one of today’s most popular Broadway and cabaret singers and songwriters. His works have won songwriting awards and been performed by Barry Manilow, Andrea Marcovicci and others. He received a Tony nomination for the four songs he contributed to Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso’s “Working,” the Tony and Drama Desk award-winning musical based on Studs Terkel’s 1974 book “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” For more on Carnelia, visit www.musicalschwartz.com/recordings/carnelia.htm.

ANDREW LIPPA

A Grammy-nominated composer and lyricist, Lippa wrote the Tony-nominated music and lyrics for the Broadway musical “The Addams” Family,” which opened in April 2010 starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth. He also wrote the music for the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin’s new play, “The Farnsworth Invention,” directed by Des McAnuff. Additional credits include “Asphalt Beach,” “The Wild Party,” “A Little Princess,” “john & jen” and “The Man in the Ceiling.” For more on Lippa, visit www.andrewlippa.com.

LARI WHITE

White’s multi-faceted career as a Gold and triple Grammy Award-winning recording artist, hit songwriter and producer, independent record label owner and versatile actress has earned her the title of Nashville's “Renaissance Woman.” As the first female producer of a male superstar, she recently made music history by producing Toby Keith's platinum album "White Trash with Money." She also has written songs for Tammy Wynette, Lonestar, and most recently, Danny Gokey, Pat Green and Sarah Buxton. For more on White, visit www.lariwhite.com.

THE JOHNNY MERCER FOUNDATION

The Johnny Mercer Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving and celebrating the work of Mercer and other great American songwriters, and to introducing their music to a new generation of listeners. The foundation also supports charitable organizations through royalties from Mercer’s songs. To learn more, visit http://johnnymercerfoundation.com/intro.html.

THE AMERICAN MUSIC THEATRE PROJECT

The goal of the American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) at Northwestern University is to nourish and invigorate American music theatre by developing and producing new musicals by music theatre’s leading artists; increasing opportunities for education and training with Northwestern’s theatre, dance and opera programs; and creating new connections between the professional and academic communities. For more, visit www.amtp.northwestern.edu.

Topics: Campus Life