Mabel Mercer Foundation board members Adela and Larry Elow created an Endowment Fund specifically to encourage teenagers to learn and perform The Great American Songbook, as composed between the years 1900-1970. Participants are nominated from pupils who attend New York City public performing arts high schools which require auditions before enrolling students.
The singers compete for cash awards: a $2,500 first prize, a $1,500 second prize, and a $1,000 third prize. The first prize winner will be invited to appear during the 2021 Cabaret Convention.
The 2020 third annual competition was held virtually through twelve a cappella student submissions and seven industry judges including Klea Blackhurst, Natalie Douglas, Adam Feldman, Jeff Harnar, Mark Hummel, Sandy Stewart, and Billy Stritch. Scores were so close that The Elows have generously allotted an extra $500 each for the two honorable mention prizes. A virtual concert of these finalists along with last year’s 1st prize winner, Anaïs Reno, was streamed on mabelmercer.org October 20th, 2020.
The 2021competition is underway via video submissions. A virtual presentation will be held in October as part of the New York Cabaret Convention.