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Black Tie International:
Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project

Craig Carnelia

Craig Carnelia



 SET FOR JUNE 18-23, 2012

Northwestern University Hosts Incubator for Emerging Songwriters




The Johnny Mercer Foundation and the American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University will once again produce a weeklong songwriting intensive for emerging songwriters and writing teams,
18-30 led by award-winning master teachers Andrew Lippa, Craig Carnelia and Lari White. 

The program celebrates the legacy of legendary songwriter Johnny Mercer who was a dedicated mentor to young singers and songwriters throughout his career.  The Johnny Mercer Foundation�s mission is 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 through innovative educational programs.


Now in its seventh year, the Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project hosts the nation's most promising songwriters across all genres including musical theatre, pop, country, Latin, rock, and contemporary pop.  Over 90 applicants from every genre applied for one of 16 spots in the prestigious program which has mentored artists like Latin Grammy-winner Obed Bermudez and singer/actress Jennifer Pena and been a catalyst to the careers of Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, Michael Koomin & Chris Dimond, Adam Gwon, Carrie Manolakos and Morgan Karr.


The 2012 program will be led by returning master teachers Andrew Lippa (THE ADDAMS FAMILY, BIG FISH), Craig Carnelia (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS), and three-time Grammy winner Lari White (GREEN-EYED SOUL).


Master teachers in previous years have included Amanda McBroom (THE ROSE), Lin-Manuel Miranda (IN THE HEIGHTS), and David Zippel (CITY OF ANGELS) and John Bucchino (A CATERED AFFAIR).


Through the generosity of the Johnny Mercer Foundation, the program is free-of-charge to selected songwriters who are housed on Northwestern University�s campus and provided with a stipend for travel and meals.


Selected songwriters will be announced in mid-May.  For more information visit:





Craig Carnelia is known primarily for his work as a songwriter in the theatre, having had four shows produced on Broadway. Working with composer Marvin Hamlisch, he wrote the lyrics for SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, with book by John Guare, and IMAGINARY FRIENDS with Nora Ephron. Ham­lisch and Carnelia received Drama Desk and Tony Award nominations for their score for SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, and Carnelia received a Drama Desk nomination for his lyrics in IMAGINARY FRIENDS.  As both composer and lyricist, he wrote the score for the Broadway musical IS THERE LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL? and contributed four songs to Studs Terkel�s WORKING, for which he received his first Tony nomination. Other honors include the Johnny Mercer Award as �Emerging American Songwriter,� the first annual Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theater Award and the prestigious Kleban Award.  Carnelia also serves as a mentor to young writers through the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop, the Dramatists Guild Musical Theatre Fellowship and the Eugene O�Neill Musical Theatre Conference.

Andrew Lippa wrote the Tony-nominated music and lyrics for the Broadway production of THE ADDAMS FAMILY starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth.  Mr. Lippa wrote the music for the Broadway production of Aaron Sorkin�s THE FARNSWORTH INVENTION, the new musical ASPHALT BEACH, THE WILD PARTY, A LITTLE PRINCESS, JOHN & JENN, and three new songs and all of the arrangements for the Broadway revival of YOU�RE A GOOD MAN CHARLIE BROWN.  Mr. Lippa is proud to have been music director for Kristen Chenoweth since 1999 for many of her concerts.  Awards include a Tony and Grammy Award nominations, the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Theater Foundation Award, ASCAP�s Richard Rodgers/New Horizons Award, the Drama Desk, and the Outer Critics Circle Award.  Memberships include ASCAP, Actors Equity Association and the American Federation of Musicians.  Mr. Lippa is a graduate of the University of Michigan and he serves on the council for the Dramatists Guild.  Next up is the new musical BIG FISH currently in development.

Lari White made her critically acclaimed Broadway debut in the spring of 2006 in RING OF FIRE, setting off a chain reaction of appearances that shows no sign of stopping.  She received rave reviews for her performance in the Marilyn and Alan Bergman Tribute with Mi­chael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall and returned to perform for the Bergmans in their Lincoln Center tribute.  Broadway By The Year audiences have enjoyed her in the Jerome Kern Tribute and Broadway Originals, as well as The Broadway Musicals of 1928 and The Broadway Musicals of 1978. She recently debuted with a weeklong run at the Algonquin Oak Room, Manhattan�s legendary supper club that has served as a launching pad for talented musicians, including Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Feinstein, Diana Krall, Peter Cincotti and others.  As a recording artist, White has earned three Grammy Awards for Best South­ern Gospel and a Gold Album. She made music history as the first female producer of a male superstar by producing Toby Keith�s platinum album, �White Trash with Money.�  Her last studio album, the R&B-flavored �Green Eyed Soul�, was hailed by the London Times as �the best soul album this year.�  Her film credits include CAST AWAY with Tom Hanks and the Lifetime Television Movie, NO REGRETS, with Kate Jackson and Janine Turner.


About Johnny Mercer. Four-time Oscar-winning lyricist, composer and singer Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1909. He had hit songs with Bing Crosby in the late 1930s, with Jo Stafford ("Candy') and on his own, especially "Accentuate the Positive." On the radio he sang with Benny Goodman and had his own shows, including "Johnny Mercer's Music Shop."


Greatly admired in the music industry both personally and for his intelligent, optimistic lyrics, he wrote or co-wrote over 1,100 songs, including "Blues in the Night," "That Old Black Magic," "One For My Baby, "Come Rain or Come Shine" (all with Harold Arlen); "Lazy Bones" and "Skylark" with Hoagy Carmichael; "I'm a Old Cowhand," "I Remember You," "P.S. I Love You," "Jeepers Creepers," "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby," "When a Woman Loves a Man," "Too Marvelous for Words," and "Fools Rush In." He won Academy Awards for "The Atchison, Topeka and The Santa Fe" (1946, with Harry Warren), "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening" (1951, with Hoagy Carmichael), "Moon River' (1961, with Henry Mancini) and "Days of Wine an Roses" (1962, with Mancini). As president and co-founder of Capitol Records, Mercer was instrumental in the early recording careers of such musicians as Peggy Lee and Nat King Cole. He died in Los Angeles in 1976.


On top of that:

·        He wrote songs for 90 motion pictures.

·        He won four Academy Awards and was nominated 19 times.

·        He wrote six Broadway shows, including ST. LOUIS WOMAN and LI�L ABNER.

·        He was a top radio personality and recording artist.

·        He was the founder and president of Capitol Records.

·        He discovered and nurtured the talent of artists like Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole.

·        He created the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

·        So entrenched is his music in the popular culture, it is often said that one cannot go throughout a day without hearing one of Mercer�s tunes on the radio, TV, film, internet, in a restaurant, store, elevator � such is the pervasiveness of his prolific career.


About the 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 in collaboration with Northwestern�s faculty and students.  AMTP�s goal 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, music theatre and dance programs; and creating new connections between the professional and academic communities. To learn more about AMTP, visit


Joyce Brooks

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