Tue., November 17, 2009 4:48pm (EST)

Savannah Erects Johnny Mercer Statue
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 4 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Sculptor Susie Chisholm shown earlier this year in her studio with the clay original of the Johnny Mercer statue.  Its bronze is to be unveiled in Ellis Square.  (photo Mercer Centennial Committee)
Sculptor Susie Chisholm shown earlier this year in her studio with the clay original of the Johnny Mercer statue. Its bronze is to be unveiled in Ellis Square. (photo Mercer Centennial Committee)
The year-long celebration of Johnny Mercer's centennial culminated today with the unveiling of a statue honoring the Savannah-born songwriter.

Mercer wrote some of the most popular standards in the American songbook, including "Blues in the Night", "Skylark," "Moon River" and "One for My Baby."

The four-time Oscar winner is one of the city's most famous native sons.

This year, just about every local cultural institution that could tie into Mercer did, with concerts, theater and shows.

Today, on what would have been his 100th birthday, city officials and Mercer relatives unveiled a statue in his honor in Ellis Square.

Susie Chisolm sculpted his smiling likeness. "I wanted the personality, the fun Johnny, the Johnny that Savannah knew," Chisholm says.

In addition to the local celebrations, the centennial is drawing some wider attention, from radio stations, musicians and cultural institutions across the globe.

Today's unveiling also included the surprise debut of a new song by Johnny Mercer.

Mercer never wrote a song about Savannah during his lifetime. But organizers recently discovered a poem he wrote about Savannah.

It was called "You're in Savannah." Organizers had Academy Award winning composer Richard Sherman, of "Mary Poppins" fame, write music for the poem.

Broadway star Michael Feinstein recorded it. His recording was played at the ceremony, to the surprise of family members present.