Pictured from L to R: Stephen Schwartz, Michael R Jackson, Adam Guettel, Paul Williams
© 2022 Juan Patino Photography
NEW YORK, Nov. 3, 2022 – The ASCAP Foundation recognized playwright, composer and lyricist Michael R. Jackson, creator of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical A Strange Loop, with The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award.
The award was recently presented to Jackson by ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams, Oscar and Tony-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, The Prince of Egypt) and Tony-winning composer/lyricist Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza) at a private luncheon in New York City. Also on hand to honor Jackson were the Oscar and Tony-winning team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) and ASCAP Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews.
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,” said Williams. “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. 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.
Michael R. Jackson is one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022. His Pulitzer Prize-winning musical A Strange Loop (which had its 2019 world premiere at Playwrights Horizons in association with Page 73 Productions) received 11 Tony nominations in 2022 and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The work was called “a full-on laparoscopy of the heart, soul, and loins” as well as a “gutsy, jubilantly anguished musical with infectious melodies” by Ben Brantley for The New York Times. In The New Yorker, Vinson Cunningham wrote, “To watch this show is to enter, by some urgent, bawdy magic, an ecstatic and infinitely more colorful version of the famous surreal lithograph by M. C. Escher: the hand that lifts from the page, becoming almost real, then draws another hand, which returns the favor.”
In addition to A Strange Loop, Jackson also wrote book, music and lyrics for White Girl in Danger. Awards and associations include: a New Professional Theatre Festival Award, a Jonathan Larson Grant, a Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, The ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson Award, a Whiting Award, the Helen Merrill Award for Playwriting, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Obie Award, an Antonyo Award, a Fred Ebb Award, a Windham-Campbell Prize and a Dramatist Guild Fellowship. Jackson is also an alum of Page 73’s Interstate 73 Writers Group.
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.
About The ASCAP Foundation
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. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States. www.ascapfoundation.org