The ASCAP Foundation recognized playwright, composer and lyricist Michael R. Jackson, creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop, with The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award.
The award was presented to Jackson by ASCAP Foundation president Paul Williams, composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, The Prince of Egypt) and composer/lyricist Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza) at a private luncheon in New York City. Also on hand to honor Jackson were Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) and ASCAP chief executive officer Elizabeth Matthews.
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The annual award is given to encourage promising young ASCAP composers of musical theater and is funded by Mary Rodgers and the Rodgers Family Foundation. Previous recipients include Lin-Manuel Miranda; Pasek & Paul; and David Hein & Irene Sankoff (Come From Away).
“Michael R. Jackson is a fearless storyteller whose stellar work is a gift to audiences and the creative community,” Williams said in a statement. “We love having him as part of our ASCAP family and are excited for him to receive this well-deserved award.”
“In a cultural climate when so many have confused activism and/or being a savvy businessperson with artistry, it has been a brutal, lonely time to believe in making art for art’s sake,” Jackson said in a statement. “And yet, making art for art’s sake is the one life raft I’ve had since 23-year-old me first put pen to paper to begin writing A Strange Loop. Receiving the Richard Rodgers Award from ASCAP is deeply meaningful to me and gives me a much needed second wind to keep paddling the stormy high seas,” said Jackson.
A Strange Loop, which was billed as “the big, Black, and queer Great American Musical for all,” received 11 Tony nominations and won two – best musical and best book of a musical for Jackson.
In 2020, Jackson joined The ASCAP Experience for “The Making of a Groundbreaking Black Queer Musical.” The discussion about the creation of A Strange Loop with Kobalt Music’s Sue Drew is available on demand on @ASCAP YouTube.
Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs.