Monday night I returned home to New England after a week's stay at The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project in greater Chicago. The project is a songwriting intensive that invites 12 emerging songwriters / writing teams in the music business to partake in a series of masterclasses, culminating in a final concert at Northwestern University. I had a feeling going into it that it would be a transformational artistic experience; driving out across the country, I think it was in Ohio I had the bizarre notion that I would somehow be a different person driving back seven days later. But I can surely say I had no idea how powerful that transformation would be.
It's strange and wonderful, a little discombobulating in a beautiful way, how people and places can change your entire outlook in a matter of a few days; How they can open your eyes to sides of yourself you didn't know were there, to your own roadblocks and your potential beyond it, in just a few brief interactions. In the past week I was gifted with a new toolbox to connect with others through the art of song; but more importantly, I found myself challenged, inspired, and impassioned to dig deeper than I ever dared, to come to know my own heart, to face my fears, and to rise to the occasion. And each morning, I found myself moved and further propelled by the touching journeys and beautiful creations presented by my fellow students. Each evening after class, I sat by Lake Michigan and wrote until every feeling I had accumulated over the day was out on the page. And in the process of my own self discovery, I created a new work of art each day ~ one of which that was brought to life onstage with the guidance of our wonderful mentors, Craig, Lari, and Stephen, and the musical arrangements of my incredibly talented peers.
My experience gave me this simple but valuable takeaway: Have the courage to write from the depths of your heart, and the dedication to find the words that voice your message with an honest and unmistakable clarity. It's more than just making an artistic product; these are tools to one's own personal growth, as well as a means of making soul connections with others through music. So thank you to everyone who shared in this journey with me, and to those who extend this opportunity to young songwriters across the world each year ~ Love & gratitude to The Johnny Mercer Foundation, my mentors, my peers, and all the organizers and crew for such an artistically and spiritually transformational week ❤️
For more information about The Johnny Mercer Foundation, visit http://www.johnnymercerfoundation.org/
For more information about The Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, visit https://www.mercersongwriters.com/