The composer of more than 1,500 songs, Johnny Mercer is one famous personality that called Savannah home. Now thanks to the Johnny Mercer Centennial Committee, Visit Savannah and the Merchants of Ellis Square, visitors and locals alike can read about the contributions Mercer made to music on a new plaque in Ellis Square.
Johnny Mercer was born in Savannah in 1909. He was an American lyricist, songwriter and singer. He is best known as a lyricist, but he also composed music. He was also a popular singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others. From the mid-1930s through the mid-1950s, many of the songs Mercer wrote and performed were among the most popular hits of the time. He wrote the lyrics to more than fifteen hundred songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows. He received nineteen Academy Award nominations, and won four. Mercer was also a co-founder of Capitol Records.
Among his more popular tunes are Moon River, Jeepers Creepers, Fools Rush In, That Old Black Magic and Hooray for Hollywood.
Centennial Committee Chair Dianne Thurman said that interest in a plaque really came from Savannah’s more than 11 million visitors a year who were asking hotel concierges and Ellis Square merchants who the interesting man on the Westside of the park was.
The Mercer Centennial Committee recently approached the City of Savannah about placing a plaque to Mercer in Ellis Square. With blessings from the city and contributions from Visit Savannah, the AVIA, The Inn at Ellis Square, The Lady & Son’s, Goose Feather’s Café, and City Market, visitors can now read about Mercer and his contributions to music.
“The Johnny Mercer Centennial stimulated an international interest not only in Johnny Mercer, but his beloved hometown, Savannah,” said Thurman. “I sense that people want to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Mercer.’ Locally too, grateful people are going the extra mile with the addition of the informative plaque in Ellis Square.”
“Visitors to our shops on Ellis Square were always asking about who the statue was of,” said Michael Meeks, owner of Goose Feathers Cafe. “When the opportunity to help get the plaque made came along, we were happy to participate. The Johnny Mercer statue has truly become focal point in the new square and the plaque completes the story.”
“In the past, we‘ve had a lot of questions from visitors about the Mercer statue,” said Joe Marinelli, president of Visit Savannah. The new plaque will give visitors another unique glimpse of the people that make Savannah special and increase the overall visitor experience to the city.”
“I would like to express my heartfelt ‘Thank you,’ Thurman went on to say. “It was the team effort of Visit Savannah, Johnny Mercer Centennial Committee, the City of Savannah, MPC staff, and the terrific hotel and restaurant partners in the Ellis Square area that also supported the project.”