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. Eligible participants are students attending New York City public performing arts high schools which require auditions. Annually in the springtime these young singers compete for cash awards: $2,500 first prize, $1,500 second prize, and $1,000 third prize. The top prize winner is also invited to perform at the Mabel Mercer Foundation’s annual Cabaret Convention at Lincoln Center in October.

On April 1, 2023 Mabel Mercer Foundation artistic director KT Sullivan & education director Natalie Douglas co-hosted the 6th annual event as eight finalists competed singing classic popular standards. This years’ winners: $2,500 first prize to Lizzie Buller singing “I’m A Stranger Here Myself” (Ogden Nash/Kurt Weill), $1,500 second prize to Indijhan Richard singing “Maybe This Time” (Fred Ebb/John Kander), and $1,000 third prize to Jada Mothersill singing “Don’t Go To Strangers” (Redd Evans/Arthur Kent & Dave Mann). Judges included Aisha de Haas (Broadway, TV & Film performer), Will Friedwald (author & New York Sun jazz critic), Elysa Gardner (New York Times arts contributor), Jeff Harnar (award winning cabaret performer & director), Mark Hummel (Broadway conductor, accompanist and arranger), and Sandy Stewart (legendary recording artist). While the votes were tabulated guests were treated to performances by Natalie Douglas and former award winners Madelyn Matthews and Julia Parasram with pianist Jon Weber.

Jon Weber, Jada Mothersill, Indijhan Richard, Lizzie Buller, Natalie Douglas (Laurie Beechman Theatre, April 1, 2023)

1st Prize – $2,500

Lizzie Buller

“I’m A Stranger Here Myself”

(Ogden Nash/Kurt Weill)


2nd Prize – $1,500

Indijhan Richard

“Maybe This Time”

(Fred Ebb/John Kander)


3rd Prize – $1,000

Jada Mothersill

“Don’t Go To Strangers”

(Redd Evans/Arthur Kent & Dave Mann)


History of Prize Winners


Cristina Jimenez (The Professional Performing Arts School) $2500

“Sing Happy” (John Kander/Fred Ebb)


Hannah Jane (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“The Joint is Really Jumpin’ at Carnegie Hall” (Roger Edens/Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin)


Naomi Steele (Talented Unlimited High School) $1000

“Gorgeous” (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick)




Anais Reno (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School) $2500

“Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues” (Duke Ellington/Don George)


Jessica Ball (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“The Very Thought of You” (Ray Noble)


Thomas Hogan (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School) $1000

“I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Cole Porter)




Savannah Lee Henry (The Professional Performing Arts School) $2500

 “Secret Love” (Sammy Fain / Paul Francis Webster)


Leonay Shepherd (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“Everybody’s Got A Home But Me” (Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein II)


Jennifer Poroye (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School) $1000

“Misty” (Eroll Garner / Johnny Burke)


Julia Parasram (Frank Sinatra School of the Arts) Honorable Mention $500

“God Bless The Child” (Billie Holiday / Arthur Herzog Jr.)


Kylie Mc Neill (The Professional Performing Arts School) Honorable Mention $500

“I Can Cook” (Leonard Bernstein / Comden & Green)




Mark Aguirre (The Professional Performing Arts School) $2500

“If Love Were All” (Noël Coward)


Madalynn Mathews (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“Cry Me A River” (Arthur Hamilton)


Julia Parasram (Frank Sinatra School of the Arts) $1000

“Someone To Watch Over Me” (Ira Gershwin/George Gershwin) 


Mairead O’Neill (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School) Honorable Mention $500

“Honey Bun” (Richard Rodgers / Oscar Hammerstein II)




Jillian Mustillo (The Professional Performing Arts School) $2500

“Bill” (Jerome Kern / Oscar Hammerstein II / P. G. Wodehouse)


Jada Mothersill (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“What Did I Ever See In Him” 


Anne Hart (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1000

“Georgous” (Sheldon Harnick / Jerry Boch)




Lizzie Buller (The Professional Performing Arts School) $2500

“I’m A Stranger Here Myself” (Ogden Nash / Kurt Weill)


Indijhan Richard (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1500

“Maybe This Time” (Fred Ebb / John Kander)


Jada Mothersill (The Professional Performing Arts School) $1000

“Don’t Go To Strangers” (Redd Evans / Arthur Kent / Dave Mann)