|Congratulating Robert Sherman Scholarship recipient Drew Nellessen (center) are Alice Gambel, creator of the Valparaiso Musical Theatre program, and BMI's Jean Banks, who supervises the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Photo by Dana Rodriguez|
Nellessen is currently a senior at the Decatur, Ill.-based college, where he is preparing to star as "Vinnie" in Millikin's production of Lucky Stiff. He has also performed in the university's productions of Sugar, The Secret Garden and Damn Yankees. An alumnus of Valparaiso (Indiana) High School, the composer/performer was presented with the scholarship during his alma mater's recent "mini-workshop" session hosted by the Tony-honored BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop in New York. The biennial event gives students in Valparaiso's Musical Theatre program a crash course on the craft of writing music and lyrics for the theatre and a unique opportunity to present their works to the Workshop's esteemed faculty. During the school year, the teens participate in a writing course led by Alice L. Gambel, who employs the teachings of BMI Workshop founder Lehman Engel. Nellessen participated in the high school's 2002 visit.
As one-half of the Oscar-winning songwriting team the Sherman Brothers, BMI composer Robert Sherman has written some of the best-loved and most-recognized songs in history, including such Disney themes as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Parent Trap, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Aristocats. With a career that spans almost 50 years, the Shermans have accumulated countless accolades, including two Academy Awards and nine nominations, two Grammy Awards, 23 gold and platinum albums, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for songs like "Chim Chim Cheree," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" and "It's A Small World (After All)," considered the most-translated and most-performed song on earth.
The BMI Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1985 to support the creation, performance, and study of music through awards, scholarships, commissions and grants. Tax-deductible donations to the Foundation come primarily from songwriters, composers and publishers, BMI employees and members of the public with a special interest in music. Because both the Foundation staff and the distinguished members of the Advisory Panel serve without compensation, over 95% of all donations and income are used for charitable grants.