Johnny and Ginger Mercer first began personally donating to Braille Institute in the 1960s and since 1995, The Johnny Mercer Foundation has supported Braille Institute through the creation of The Johnny Mercer Music Program, which helps blind and visually impaired children and adults find their voices through musical instruction and performance. All elements of the program are offered entirely free of charge.
The Johnny Mercer Children’s Choir is the only program in Southern California specifically for blind and visually impaired children. The choir is comprised of kids ages 6-18 from Los Angeles and Orange County. Additionally, there is The Johnny Mercer Young Men’s Choir that is designed for men ages 13-28 who have graduated out of the children’s choir. Members learn vocal music and performance techniques, gain confidence and overcome isolation as they discover a community of peers who struggle with their same issues.
The choirs travel throughout Southern California performing free concerts at senior centers, schools and other community facilities, showing people that blindness or any disability doesn’t have to stand in the way of your dreams. One of the choirs’ signature songs is Johnny Mercer’s “Accentuate the Positive.”
For blind and visually impaired adults, The Johnny Mercer Music Program offers free classes on music theory, history and appreciation as well as vocal and instrumental lessons in both individual and small group settings. Participants may arrive at Braille Institute with little or no musical experience but find an outlet for artistic expression, personal fulfillment and a supportive group of peers.
The program’s signature event is the annual Johnny Mercer Music Festival which honors the legacy of Johnny Mercer through performances of his classic songs by Braille Institute choruses, bands and ensembles.
For nearly a century, The Braille Institute has worked to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and sight loss. They are operated and funded almost entirely through private individuals and foundations like The Johnny Mercer Foundation.
By offering these free programs to children and adults, The Johnny Mercer Music Program has been able to empower students and teach them that vision loss is not the end but a new way of living.