THE 2019

SONGWRITERS

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JULIA APPLETON

Julia is a songwriter and performer in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. A lifelong songwriter, Julia is now bringing her experience in country, soul and pop to the world of musical theater. Most recently, she composed the music for The Yellow Wallpaper, the definitive new musical adaptation of Charlotte Perkins-Gilman’s celebrated short story (book by Hannah Church). Energized for a new generation with a message that’s more relevant than ever, The Yellow Wallpaper was featured by the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival in 2016, PlaySmelter Theatre Festival in 2018, and will appear in Atlanta's Alliance Theater Reiser Lab in spring of 2020. In 2018, Julia participated in the ETC Lab courtesy of Eclipse Theatre Company in Toronto. This annual event brings together musical theater creators to exchange ideas, techniques, and methodologies. Julia had the privilege to collaborate with many Canadian entertainment mainstays, such as Colleen Dauncey (Prom Queen). Today, Julia Appleton and Colleen Dauncey have teamed up as a songwriting duo. Julia and her husband Francy Goudreault also make music as the indie alt-country duo Lighthart. In her spare time, Julia enjoys long road trips, hiking, and playing hide-and-seek with her dog, Lila.

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BEN BONNEMA

Ben is a Jonathan Larson Award-winning composer and lyricist. Theatre: The Apple Boys with Jonothon Lyons (HERE Arts Center, “Clever, catchy songs” – The New Yorker), Boys Who Tricked Me (Musical Theatre Factory, “heart-healing musical theatre" – New York Times), One Way with Christopher Staskel (Goodspeed Writers Colony, 2018 NAMT Finalist), The Lost Girl with Arianna Rose, Sleep No More (additional sound design and composition). Film: Mary Poppins Returns (Music Associate to Marc Shaiman, Oscar nomination for Best Score). New Media: PETER PANIC with James Marion (Adult Swim Games, two million downloads). Ben holds an M.F.A. from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

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JANE BRUCE

Jane is a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter and actor from Ogden, Utah whose raw yet intimate performances have already drawn crowds at renowned New York City music venues. She received her B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from The University of Michigan, and has performed in numerous new works including The Ballad of Little Jo (Two River), The Theory of Relativity (Goodspeed), The Other Josh Cohen (Off-Broadway), and will be making her Broadway debut this fall in the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill. She released her debut EP “It’s You” in 2017, and will be releasing her first full album, My Bed, produced by Mercer alumnus Elliah Heifetz, in the coming months. @janebrucemusic

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KRISTEN IVERSON

Kristen is a singer-songwriter from Richmond, VA with a love for travel and new experiences. As random as life is, becoming a songwriter was the most random thing that could ever happen to her. She stumbled upon it after trying to create a few songs to DJ at local gigs. Now, after almost two years of songwriting and releasing the EP “Queen St.” under the moniker of Midlo, she has found herself in LA “chasing the dream.”

REID JENKINS

Reid is a violinist and songwriter based in New York City. Raised in a musical family, his early musical life was dedicated to training in classical and jazz violin complemented by a heavy interest in American fiddle music. In 2011, he co-founded indie-folk-pop band Morningsiders, which has since gone on to tour nationally, produce numerous records, and accrue over 37 millions streams on Spotify. Over the past few years, Reid has shifted his focus to songwriting and production, and has recently completed a self-produced four-song recording of original work to be released in summer 2019. He finds inspiration in many artists, such as Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, Vampire Weekend, Emily King, Frank Ocean, Courtney Barnett, Imogen Heap, Queen, and Little Dragon. In addition to writing and producing his own music, Reid collaborates with other songwriters, writes string and horn arrangements for recordings, and is a part-time wedding officiant. 

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BRIANNA NELSON

Brianna is a Boho Pop artist; she has a bohemian spirit resonating with heart and mind that moves your body and soul. She’s performed at venues such as Sellersville Theatre (PA), Rockwood Music Hall (NYC), City Winery Boston (MA), and The Listening Room (Nashville, TN). Currently, Brianna studies songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she continues to write, record and perform.

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CHEEYANG NG

Born and raised in Singapore, Cheeyang is an award-winning singer-songwriter who has performed around the world, including Lincoln Center with Carole King, Carnegie Hall with a cappella group Vocalosity, and all around Asia with The Apex Project. He is the first Singaporean to headline a concert at Joe’s Pub showcasing his original music, and his songs have been performed at The Duplex and Feinstein's/54 Below. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music and NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, Cheeyang is interested in the intersection of Asian, immigrant and queer stories. Musicals in development include Eastbound with Khiyon Hursey (NAMT Writers Grant, NYTB IMPACT Award), Only Us with Eric Sorrels (Drama League Residency), and The Golden Threshold with Eric Sorrels (Hypokrit Theatre). @cheeyangmusic www.cheeyang.com

NICK PARKER

Nick is a lyricist, librettist, playwright, and songwriter based in Philadelphia. Credits include Mad Cool (Frigid Festival 2018, Corkscrew Theater Festival 2017); Natalie (Midtown International Theatre Festival, 2016) and Lydia & Tom (New York International Fringe Festival, 2012). He is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop.

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SAM ROBBINS

Sam describes himself as an "old soul singer-songwriter." A New England based musician whose music evokes classic singer-songwriters like James Taylor and John Denver, Sam Robbins has gained recognition as the first artist to perform a Jim Croce song on NBC's The Voice, bringing a 1970's sound to the modern era. He continues to gain considerable attention as he tours promoting his latest release "Addicted" and plans to release a full album in summer 2019.

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ELLYSA ROSE

With the emotional expression of Ed Sheeran and the vocal styling of Florence Welch-meets-Christina Perri, ellysa is an artist, songwriter, and producer who uses wistful melodies and insightful lyrics to comment on her surroundings. Currently, ellysa is producing a new artist's album, writing for a major label and independent artists, and continues to release music with a message, like her latest singles "Shattered" and "Sad Happy". A modern day gypsy, ellysa grew up on three continents, providing an unparalleled warmth and depth to her intimate sound. @justellysa www.justellysa.com

 

“It takes a special confidence to pull off this kind of material, and [ellysa] has it.” - Music Connection Magazine

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EVA B. ROSS

It’s hard to place the music of Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Eva into any one genre, and she’s quite alright with that. Born into a family of performers, Ross grew up in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and began writing songs at the age of 11 for her family band. Ross went on to attend UCLA; highlights include: Jazz Reggae Festival, opening for Burt Bacharach at UCLA’s Royce Hall, and performing alongside the Monk Institute as the 2018 Herb Alpert School of Music’s featured alumni. In 2017, she won the school’s renowned Spring Sing competition (past award recipients include Sara Bareilles and Maroon 5), after being included in the event for three consecutive years. She is a SAG-AFTRA session singer and a regularly featured vocalist on Jimmy Kimmel Live. It was her original song “Nick’s House” that first caught the ear of Grammy award-winning Nashville producer and engineer, Justin Niebank. Her first three singles, produced by Niebank and Steve Rashid and written by Ross, were recorded at Castle Recording Studio. She is currently co-producing and working on her debut EP which will be released this summer.

ERIC SORRELS

Hailing from Lebanon, Tennessee, Eric is a New York based performer, songwriter, and music director. As a singer, he’s performed with professional ensembles at the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, The Bard Music Festival, and the choirs of Temple Emanuel, St. Thomas, and Church of Our Saviour. As a music director, he’s helmed several cabarets and concerts at The Duplex and Feinstein’s/54 Below. His songs have been showcased at The Duplex and Joe’s Pub. A University of Tennessee Knoxville alumnus, he’s finishing his MFA at NYU’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Projects in development include The Golden Threshold and Only Us with Cheeyang Ng, and the song cycle Yas, Queen! @eric.sorrels

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CHRISTOPHER STASKEL

Christopher is a writer and musical theatre lyricist-librettist who lives and works in New York City. Recent projects include One Way with Ben Bonnema (2017 Rhinebeck Writer’s Retreat, Playwrights Horizons reading), and The Firebird with Lisa Whitson Burns (Musical Theatre Factory’s 2015 “New Orchestrations” gala, 2014 NMTC/O’Neill finalist). His one-act The Pledge, with Nikko Benson, was featured in Prospect Theater Company’s 2016 Musical Theatre Lab. He was a 2015 Kleban Prize finalist and a winner (with Max Mamon) of New York City Center’s Sondheim Remix contest, which granted him the surreal opportunity to rap for Stephen Sondheim. Chris’s work has been seen at Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, the Laurie Beechman Theatre, the Brooklyn Lyceum, Galapagos Art Space, and the Bruno Walter Auditorium at Lincoln Center. He holds a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University and an MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch. www.christopherstaskel.com

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TUCKER

TUCKER is a songwriter-singer-pianist-actor-multi-hyphenate based in NYC and LA. An ASCAP Harry Chapin Workshop vet, TUCKER has performed his original pop and musical theatre material at The Cutting Room, Birdland, Feinstein’s/54 Below, Le Poisson Rouge, E&C Studio, The Bitter End, Club Cumming, Rockwood Music Hall, NYMF, Drom, and as one half of the acclaimed duo “Two Tuckers” at The Duplex Cabaret Theatre, where his latest musical comedy show Peter, Paul and Carly premiered to sold out houses in 2019. As a SAG-AFTRA session singer, TUCKER has worked with some of the most notable names in entertainment, including his idol, the legendary Carole King, in the network television premiere of her song “One” on the Today Show. He has sung on- and off-camera at SNL and has voiced network IDs, promos, and themes for cable networks including Nickelodeon; he regularly knocks off singers in syndicated parodies for iHeart Media. The Huffington Post says: “What sets TUCKER apart is his material. He writes richly-layered, melodic songs that sound contemporary but also recall an era when the Brill Building invented Top-40 radio.” Paul Shaffer says: “He’s the complete package…He’ll have the longevity and success that comes from being an original.” @thetuckergram

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JJ WARSHAW

JJ is a composer and actor. He is currently writing Tuesday, a one-act musical, with Nick Parker. Recent acting credits include Gonzo (Corkscrew Theatre Festival, LPAC Rough Draft Festival) and the short film Sugar and Sand. He is a member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Writing Workshop. www.jjwarshaw.com

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© 2019 by The Johnny Mercer Foundation Songwriters Project