NEW YORK CITY: The Fred Ebb Foundation, in association with the Roundabout Theatre Company, has named Angela Sclafani and Benjamin Velez the recipients of the Fred Ebb Award. Named in honor of the late lyricist Fred Ebb, the award, funded by royalties from Ebb’s work, recognizes songwriters who have not yet achieved significant commercial success.
Kate Baldwin will present the recipients with the award, which comes with a $60,000 prize, at a ceremony on Dec. 2. The Fred Ebb Foundation will also produce a one-night-only showcase of the winners’ work.
This year’s selection panel included the Fred Ebb Foundation trustee Mitchell S. Bernard; actor Montego Glover; lyricist and composer Sheldon Harnick; music director David Loud; and actor Kirsten Scott.
Sclafani is a New York City-based composer and performer. Her new song cycle, Passion Project (vol.1), premiered at the Green Room 42 in September. She has independently released two EPs, “Your Ghost” and “Blossom,” and frequently performs live at the notable singer-songwriter venue, Rockwood Music Hall. This year, her original song “Your Ghost” received first place in the Great American Song Contest’s Adult Contemporary category. Sclafani is also a 2018 Jonathan Larson Grant finalist and a 2017 Billie Burke Ziegfeld Award semifinalist.
Velez is a composer/lyricist born and raised in Miami. His new musical Kiss My Aztec, written with John Leguizamo, Tony Taccone, and David Kamp, and directed by Tony Taccone, had its world premiere at Berkeley Rep in June 2019, followed by a run at the La Jolla Playhouse in fall 2019. Velez was previously a Fred Ebb Award finalist (2012) and a Jonathan Larson Grant finalist (2017). His musical Afterland with collaborator Katie Hathaway had readings at both the Yale Institute for Music Theater (2014) and the York Theater (2016), both directed by Mark Brokaw. He was a 2017 Sundance Artist at the UCROSS Foundation, and a 2018 artist in residence. His musical Starblasters had a reading at Dixon Place in 2018, directed by Daniel Goldstein. His musical Borderline, with book writer Aryanna Garber, was the 2018 Weston Playhouse New Musical Award winner was workshopped at the 2019 O’Neill Musical Theater Conference this past summer.