The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Honors celebrated musicians in theater, jazz, and beyond at the December 14 ceremony, held inside the Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
David Hein and Irene Sankoff, the Tony-nominated husband and wife team behind Come From Away, received the evening’s Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award. On hand to present the duo with the honor was Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, who praised the pair for their musical’s prescient call for kindness.
“[The] story of how generosity and love prevail in times of great hardship, their rollicking Celtic-styled music and candid, evocative lyrics make the show a total work of heart,” Schwartz said.
Also on hand to honor Hein and Sankoff was Come From Away’s Tony-nominated star, Jenn Colella, who performed the musical’s soaring showstopper “Me and the Sky.”
Accepting the award, Hein thanked the “behind-the-scenes village” who have assisted in their rise, specifically citing their babysitter, who was tending to their daughter in the audience. The pair also expressed gratitude to Schwartz for presenting them with the honor, and confessed that their cat is actually named Elphaba, after one of the witches at the heart of Wicked.
The Richard Rodgers Award, created and funded by the late daughter of Rodgers himself, Mary Rodgers, is intended to encourage promising composers of musical theater.
The evening’s other major honoree was Dee Dee Bridgewater, who received the ASCAP Foundation Champion Award. Presented by ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams, it celebrates ASCAP members’ charitable and humanitarian efforts outside of music alone. Bridgewater, a Grammy winner, is also a Goodwill Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, aiding in the fight against world hunger.
“I would just like to say to all of the members of ASCAP who decided I was to receive the Champion Award, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Bridgewater said, accepting the award. “It’s a huge honor for me because this is just something that I’ve always done: help people who cannot help themselves, lend my voice to people who do not have a voice.”
Bridgewater then went on to perform an original composition, “ Meanwhile,” accompanied by a young composer and pianist, she made sure to note.
In addition to Colella and Bridgewater, the ceremony featured several performances by many of the year’s ASCAP honorees, spanning numerous musical genres. Drake Milligan, recipient of the Desmond Child Anthem Award, performed his country song “Cheatin’ Backwards,” Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award Recipient David Leon performed “Party Fowl,” co-recipients of the Robert Allen Award Danielle Harris and Myles Potters performed “Our Love is Alive,” and Brian Nathan, who received the BMG Scholarship in honor of Quincy Jones, performed “New Year’s Day (We Made it All the Way),” which he both wrote and produced.
The ASCAP Foundation, founded in 1975, is a charitable organization focusing entirely on the support of American music creators; through music education, talent development, and humanitarian programs, it is able to encourage artists’ creative development. The ASCAP Foundation provides emerging musicians with songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition, and community outreach programs; its efforts are supported via contributions from both ASCAP members as well as supporters from across the United States.