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Ali Stroker joins mentor team for Songbook Academy

6/20/2023 12AM

Clockwise from upper left: Michael Feinstein, Andréa Burns, Ali Stroker, Liz Callaway, Liam Forde, Eleri Ward, Devin Ilaw and Nasia Thomas will serve as guest mentors and coaches at Songbook Academy 2023.

Broadway stars Andréa Burns, Nasia Thomas, Liz Callaway
also will work with students at national high school music intensive

Public performances scheduled July 18, 20, 22


CARMEL, Ind. – With only a month until Songbook Academy® 2023, the Great American Songbook Foundation has announced a national sponsorship and a cast of Broadway stars and other entertainment professionals to serve as guest mentors at its 14th annual music intensive for the nation’s top high school singers.


At this year’s Songbook Academy, taking place July 15-22 at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, the industry mentors will include:

  • Michael Feinstein, a five-time Grammy Award nominee and music preservationist, is the founder of the Great American Songbook Foundation, known for his piano and vocal work, his signature cabaret clubs across the nation and his projects for public broadcasting. His latest album is Gershwin Country, featuring duets with Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley and other country stars.
  • Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She then won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! She next stars in Netflix’s upcoming limited series, Echoes.
  • Andréa Burns won a Drama Desk Award as the original Daniela in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway musical In the Heights. Other Broadway credits include The Rose Tattoo opposite Marisa Tomei, The Nance opposite Nathan Lane, The Ritz, The Full Monty and starring as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Burns currently appears as Rosie in Up Here on Hulu as well as Isabel on HBO Max’s Generation Por Qué?
  • Liz Callaway is a Tony nominee, Emmy winner and recording artist who made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along. She has gone on to star in Baby, Miss Saigon, The Look of Love and The Three Musketeers, and for five years appeared as Grizabella in Cats. She has provided the singing voice for numerous animated movies, and her extensive concert career has included appearances in London, Paris, Sydney and throughout the U.S.
  • Liam Forde is an actor, singer, songwriter and voice teacher who performs on the New York concert and cabaret circuit. His 2022 debut album of original pop/jazz songs, Great to Be Here, was called “a dreamy pop debut” by Huffpost. Off-Broadway credits include The Mountains Look Different (Mint Theater Co.) and Much Ado About Nothing (Theatre for a New Audience).
  • Nasia Thomas can currently be seen as Anna of Cleves in Six on Broadway. Other Broadway credits include Caroline, or Change (revival), Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations and Little Eva in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. She also performed in the National Tour of Beautiful and has appeared on TV in The 4400 and That Damn Michael Che.


Other special guests assisting with this year’s Academy include:

  • Vocal coach Devin Ilaw is a New York City-based artist and educator whose Broadway credits include Miss Saigon (Thuy) and Les Misérables (Montparnasse). He currently serves on the voice faculty at NYU (New Studio on Broadway) and New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. He will serve as a vocal coach throughout Academy Week.
  • Eleri Ward is a New York City-based actor, singer and musician and a 2012 alumna of the Songbook Academy. Her home-recorded 2021 indie-folk album of Sondheim songs, A Perfect Little Death, has been hailed as “hauntingly beautiful” by Forbes and “an incandescent new record, something genuinely new” by American Theater Magazine.


The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Mentor Champions support the national faculty teams who guide the students throughout the week. This year’s faculty includes music directors Jeff Harris, Russ Kassoff, Daryl Kojak, Beckie Menzie and Melanie Shore, along with vocal coaches Kathleen Hacker, Elaine Moebius, Mary Michael Patterson, Lynne Rothrock and Catherine Walker.


The central Indiana-based Efroymson Family Fund is continuing its national Songbook Academy partnership this year with a $100,000 grant to the Songbook Foundation. Additional support is provided by the City of Carmel, Salon 01 and the Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation.


Songbook Academy Week includes three public performance events at the Center’s Palladium concert hall, which will take place before a live audience and also will be livestreamed for viewers worldwide:

Public Masterclass – 2-5 p.m. Tuesday, July 18 (rescheduled from July 19)

Ten randomly selected participants will perform and receive real-time critiques from Songbook Foundation Founder Michael Feinstein and Tony Award-winning actor and speaker Ali Stroker.

Songbook Showcase – 2-5 p.m. Thursday, July 20

Each of the 40 national finalists will have a turn in the spotlight to perform a selected song.

Songbook Academy in Concert – 7 p.m. Saturday, July 22

Michael Feinstein will emcee as all 40 singers perform in choral numbers, small group ensembles and featured solos to celebrate their growth over the course of the week. The dynamic musical revue also will include tributes to legendary songwriters, interview clips gathered during the week and guest performances by Songbook Academy alumni.


For the July 18 and 20 events, on-site tickets and livestream registration are pay-what-you-can with no minimum price. For the final concert, on-site tickets start at just $25, and the livestream option is pay-what-you-can with a $10 minimum. Tickets are on sale now at, by phone at (317) 843- 3800 or toll-free at (877) 909-2787.


About the Great American Songbook Foundation

The mission of the Great American Songbook Foundation, founded in 2007 by five-time Grammy® Award nominee Michael Feinstein, is to inspire and educate by celebrating the Great American Songbook – the timeless standards of pop, jazz, Broadway and Hollywood. Headquartered at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel, Indiana, the Foundation advances this rich legacy by curating physical artifacts of its creators, performers and publishers; operating a multimedia exhibit gallery; overseeing the Songbook Hall of Fame; offering programs for the public and research opportunities for scholars and artists; and providing educational opportunities for student musicians, including the annual Songbook Academy® summer intensive. The Foundation is a Cultural Affiliate of the Los Angeles-based Grammy Museum®. More information is available at


About the Efroymson Family Fund

The Efroymson Family Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation, continues a long legacy of charitable commitment by the Efroymson family in central Indiana. The Efroymson Family Fund was established in 1998 by Dan and Lori Efroymson to promote the viability of communities and to date has awarded more the $127 million in grants in central Indiana and beyond. For more information, visit