The Apollo Theater has announced a series of programs and partnerships which build on its longstanding role as a creative catalyst for Harlem, New York, and the nation. New initiatives, including the launch of the interactive Amateur Night Digital website and mobile app, are expanding the Apollo’s reach beyond the walls of the Theater, while artistic and community programs continue to make the Apollo a vital cultural resource and an important platform for both emerging and established artists.
Since it opened in 1934, the Apollo Theater has been a cornerstone of the Harlem community and has launched and nurtured the careers of countless legendary performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, and Alicia Keys. The Apollo’s new and expanded initiatives for 2012 reflect the Theater’s ongoing commitment to education, community, and artist development.
- The launch of Amateur Night Digital, featuring a new website and mobile app that bring the Theater’s signature show to audiences around the world for the first time,and the return of the Apollo’s 78-year-old talent competition, Amateur
- A new partnership with London’s Hackney Empire for a transatlantic Amateur Night competition coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics.
- Apollo Music Café, showcasing creative underground artists including Abby Dobson, Bradd Marquis, and
Nucomme in intimate performances on the Apollo’s Soundstage.
- A new partnership with the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council to present Apollo Celebrates Broadway, a series of events including a Broadway-themed Amateur Night and Music Café featuring stars Leslie Uggams, Lillias
White, Jason Samuels Smith, and Chester Gregory, and a Broadway-focused career panel.
- A diverse concert program featuring tributes to legendary musicians Hubert Sumlin and
Robert Johnson, an exclusive performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band presented in coordination with SiriusXM Radio,and a festive night of world music with Pino Daniele.
- The Apollo Salon Series, supporting the development of exciting new works including Queen Esther’s Billie Holiday Project and the family musical Mr.Chickee’s Funny Money.
- The second annual Harlem Jazz Shrines festival, celebrating the neighborhood’s history as a jazz mecca and showcasing today’s top talents, presented in collaboration with Harlem Stage, Jazzmobile, and Columbia University.
- TEDxHarlem, a locally-focused installment of the global creative conference series exploring, celebrating and empowering the informal methods of social innovation that grow organically in the Harlem community and beyond.
- The Apollo’s annual Spring Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony, featuring the newest inductees to the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.
- An Open House Weekend, when the Apollo will give visitors a behind-the-scenes look at the Apollo’s rich history and current programs for audiences of all ages.
“The Apollo Theater is recognized around the world for launching the careers of so many legendary artists,” said
Apollo Theater President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “Today, we are building on that legacy with programs that honor our musical heritage, like Amateur Night, and series that support the work of the next generation of performers, like Music Café. Meanwhile, new partnerships and digital initiatives are allowing us to share the Apollo experience with an even broader audience in New York and around the world.”
2012 PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
Amateur Night at the Apollo
Wednesdays at 7:30pm, through October
Now in its 78th year, Amateur Night at the Apollo has launched the careers of thousands of performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, and Lauryn Hill. The Apollo’s signature talent competition attracts aspiring artists and visitors from all over the world, and remains one of New York City’s most popular live entertainment experiences, where audience reaction can make or break a career. Produced by Marion J. Caffey, Amateur Night is hosted by the comedian Capone and features live music by Onreé Gill and the Apollo house band, as well as appearances by master impressionist C.P. Lacey, the resident “Executioner” who sweeps rejected contestants off the stage. Amateur Night is sponsored by Coca-Cola.
This Amateur Night season marks the launch of Amateur Night Digital, an innovative, interactive online platform that brings the Apollo’s signature talent competition to audiences around the globe. Amateur Night Digital enables fans worldwide to track the progress of Amateur Night contestants and vote for their favorite artists. Features include:
- Access to exclusive content such as video clips from the live show, pre- and post-performance interviews with artists, audience reactions, and contestant testimonials.
- A new “Remix Round” giving Amateur Night contestants who did not place as finalists the opportunity to earn a second chance to win over the Apollo audience and advance to the Amateur Night finals through online voting.
- Forums to comment on Amateur Night performances both online and as they happen, for members of the live audience using the mobile app.
- Points and rewards for watching videos, commenting, and voting for Remix Round contestants
The 2012 Amateur Night Season will also feature a number of special themed nights:
Amateur Night at the Apollo: Broadway!
Wednesday, March 14 at 7:30p.m.
This special themed Amateur Night will feature popular Broadway show tunes and a roster of aspiring and rising Broadway talents, hosted by Talent and Lillias White (Fela and Chicago), with Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah Baby!) as host of the Child Stars of Tomorrow segment, and a special guest performance by and Jason Samuels Smith.
Amateur Night Goes To London
Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30pm
The Apollo is partnering with London’s Hackney Empire for a transatlantic Amateur Night competition coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympics. Winners of this special themed Amateur Night at the Apollo will travel to London to represent the Apollo Theater at “Live at the Empire & Apollo Amateur Night: Hackney vs. Harlem” in July 2012. Auditions for Amateur Night Goes To London will be held at the Apollo on March 31 and April 1, and winners will be featured as guest artists at Amateur Night on September 19.
Amateur Night at the Apollo: Nothin’ But Soul
Wednesday, June 27 at 7:30p.m.
Competing artists pay homage to Apollo soul legends like Gladys Knight, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin with performances rooted in soul music.
Amateur Night at the Apollo: Harlem Week
Wednesday, August 22 at 7:30p.m.
To celebrate Harlem Week, this special Amateur Night will feature artists from the Harlem community.
Apollo Music Café
Now in its second season, Apollo Music Café showcases creative underground artists in a series of diverse performances across genres, including R&B, hip hop, soul, jazz, pop, funk, and rock. Presented in the Theater’s intimate Soundstage, Music Café offers a lounge-like atmosphere to experience innovative, avant-garde performances, with a bar and stage-side seating. Upcoming performances include:
Apollo Music Café: Savory Sounds of R&B
Featuring Abby Dobson and Bradd Marquis
Friday, March 16 at 10:00p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00p.m.)
Abby Dobson captures a crowd with captivating melodies, emotionally charged lyrics, and technical acrobatics honed from classical training infused with jazz, blues, gospel, pop, country, folk, classic R&B, rock and soul influences. Bradd Marquis, dubbed “the next R&B powerhouse” by DJ Kay Slay, has built an impressive with live appearances, including on Showtime at the Apollo. Curated by Lisa Yancey.
Apollo Music Café: Betty’s Story
A Tribute to Betty Davis with Nucomme
Saturday, March 17 at 10:00p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00p.m.)
Musician and vocalist Nucomme presents a multi-media tribute to Betty Mabry Davis, ex-wife of Miles Davis and one of the original voices in the funkadelic movement of the mid-70s. Unabashed, sexually charged, and steeped in the funk, soul and R&B traditions, “Betty’s Story” is unforgettably alive. Curated by Lisa Yancey.
Apollo Music Café: A Broadway Cabaret
Monday, March 19 at 8:30p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 8:00p.m.)
An evening of cabaret, dance and music featuring Tony-award winner Lilias White (Fela and Chicago) and Broadway star Chester Gregory (Dreamgirls and Sister Act), hosted by Larry Marshall (The Color Purple).
Apollo Music Café: The Billie Holiday Project
Featuring Queen Esther
Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14 at 10:00p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00p.m.)
Billie Holiday’s rarer sides and two of Zora Neale Hurston’s newly discovered short stories—Monkey Junk and The Country in the Woman—come together to reveal a glimpse of The Harlem Renaissance and black urban life in the 1920s. Vocalist and librettist Queen Esther, along with Francesca Harper, Charles Wallace, and Keith L. Thomas, bring a fresh perspective to this previously unexplored material, with accompaniment by Queen Esther’s jazz quintet The Hot Five, under the musical direction of Matt Ray. As part of the Theater’s Salon Series, Queen Esther will workshop the show at the Apollo in the week leading up to the performance
Apollo Music Café: Jazz Night
Featuring Kellylee Evans
Friday, May 11 at 10:00p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00p.m.)
An evening of music from Kellylee Evans, Canadian jazz and soul vocalist and a 2004 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal competition winner.
Apollo Music Café: Jazz Night
Featuring Marc Cary
Saturday, May 12 at 10:00p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00p.m.)
Jazz pianist Marc Cary presents an intimate concert on the Apollo Soundstage.
Apollo Celebrates Broadway
Throughout its history, the Apollo Theater has maintained strong ties to the musical theater community, launching African-American performers to Broadway fame, and most recently, presenting the musicals Harlem Song (2002) and Dreamgirls (2009). This year, the Apollo will present a special series of shows and events celebrating the Apollo’s historical impact on musical theater and ongoing contributions to Broadway. The Apollo Celebrates Broadway programs are made possible thanks to a grant from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, and include:
Career Panel: Behind the Scenes – Women in Theater
Monday, March 12 at 6:30p.m.
The Apollo will present a free career panel focused on Broadway artists, and emphasizing women on stage and behind the scenes, in honor of Women’s History Month. The moderator will be Amanda Pekoe (marketing and advertising executive), and panelists will include Carin Ford (sound engineer/design), Stephanie Klapper (casting director), Mari Nakachi (producer), Wendy Seyb (choreographer), Linda Twine (music director and conductor). The panelists will offer career advice and share personal accounts of working in the theater industry.
This program is part of the Apollo’s ongoing series of educational programs designed to introduce students to career opportunities in entertainment, and is presented in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment “Made In New York” Industry Series, The Broadway League, and The League of Professional Theatre Women.
Career Seminar: Real Stories on Stage
Monday, March 12at 4:45p.m.
Presented by the Apollo Theater Education Program and the Harlem Arts Alliance with assistance from Walk Tour Girl Productions, Real Stories on Stage is a seminar for emerging playwrights interested in dramatizing factual events and personal histories. The seminar will provide an opportunity to exchange ideas on how to integrate the messages of real life experiences into dramatic scripts, build characters, and tell the story while maintaining its integrity. Presenters include Lisa Cortes (film/TV and music producer), Katti Gray (multimedia journalist, writing and editing consultant), Katori Hall (playwright), Alia Jones-Harvey (producer), and Tamara Tunie (actress, director, producer).
Growing out of the Apollo’s ongoing role as an incubator for new and innovative forms of artistic expression and its 75-year history of nurturing talent, the Apollo Salon Series supports the development of new work, including fee support, rehearsal and workshop space, technical and production assistance, and the opportunity to present performances of the project at the Apollo. Programs include:
The Billie Holiday Project: Workshop
Multidisciplinary artist Queen Esther will continue to develop her evolving piece, The Billie Holliday Project, with new artists contributing a fresh perspective After a week-long residency in April the project will be presented to the public in a series of Music Café performances on April 13 and 14.
Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money
The Apollo is partnering with Bisno Productions (the company behind Annie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and War Horse) to develop the new family musical “Mr. Chickee’s Funny Money,” based on the children’s book by Newbery Award-winning author Christopher Paul Curtis, with music by Lamont Dozier. In early February, the Apollo hosted a staged work-in-progress reading of the show.
Education and Community Programs
Through a variety of programs designed to engage audiences of all ages, the Apollo’s education and community outreach activities build on the Theater’s rich history as a cultural and economic anchor to greater Harlem. Ongoing initiatives include historic tours, school partnerships, community events and performances serving the Apollo’s diverse population, and a robust career development program that exposes young people to non-performing careers in the arts and entertainment.
Open House Weekend
In early February, the Apollo opened its doors for a weekend to give members of the Harlem community, New York City residents and tourists a free behind-the-scenes look at the Theater’s rich history and current activities. Future Open House Weekends to be announced.
Harlem Jazz Shrines
Monday, May 7 – Sunday, May 13, 2012
The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile, with Columbia University, will present the second annual Harlem Jazz Shrines festival, a series of concerts and events at venues across Harlem celebrating the rich legacy of jazz in the uptown community. This new addition to the New York City and Harlem cultural calendar showcases a range of today’s top artists and emerging talent.
Wycliffe Gordon’s Jazz à la Carte
Saturday, May 12, 3p.m. and 8p.m.
The Apollo’s variety shows of the 1930’s made a comeback last year under the music direction of composer/trombonist Wycliffe Gordon and the director/choreographer Kenneth L. Roberson. Gordon’s show returns this year with host Maurice Hines, tap star Savion Glover, the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, vocalist Theresa Thomason, pianist Aaron Diehl, trumpeter Philip Dizack, trombonist/vocalist Natalie Cressman and the Apollo Dancers.
Spring Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony
Monday, June 4, 2012
The Apollo’s annual Gala Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony brings together the best and brightest in business and entertainment to support the non-profit theater’s remarkable legacy, its initiatives for emerging artists, and community and educational programs in New York City and beyond. At the event, two artists will be inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, joining past honorees Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Partner Events at the Apollo
Long a convener for Harlem and the global cultural community, the Apollo is host to a series of concerts and events presented by partner organizations and featuring an array of leading voices in the artistic and civic sectors. Programs include:
Robert Johnson @ 100
Tuesday, March 6 at 8:00p.m.
The Blues Foundation presents a musical tribute to Robert Johnson at the Apollo, to celebrate the legendary blues musician’s 100th birthday. The all-star tribute will feature 20 artists including The Roots, Shemika Copeland, Bettye LaVette, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Todd Rundgren, Sam Moore, and others to be announced. The concert will support the construction of the Blues Hall of Fame by the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Friday, March 9 at 8:00p.m.
In celebration of its tenth anniversary, SiriusXM Radio presents Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live in concert at the Apollo Theater, performing songs from the forthcoming album Wrecking Ball. The concert will air live nationwide on Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Radio, SiriusXM Radio Channel 20.
Tuesday, March 27
The Apollo hosts a locally-focused installment of the global creative conference series, focused on exploring, celebrating, and empowering the informal methods of social innovation that grow organically in the Harlem community and beyond. Inspired by the concept of Living Labs, TEDxHarlem views cities as an untapped resource in the creation of new solutions to persistent problems. The conference will connect some of the world’s most eclectic and innovative ideas with the Harlem community.
Teen Poetry: Grand Slam Final
Saturday, April 7 at 7:00p.m.
The top twenty competitors from the 14th Annual NYC Teen Poetry Slam vie for a chance to represent New York City at the National Teen Poetry Slam. This event is hosted by Toni Blackman, with beats by DJ Reborn, and special performances by Spanglish Fly and the NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ishmael Islam.
An Evening of Spoken Word with Ruby Dee
Sunday, May 13 at 5:00p.m.
In this special Mother’s Day event, stage, film and television icon and American treasure Ruby Dee will present an evening of music and spoken word.
Thursday, June 7 at 8:00p.m.
Multi-platinum recording artist Pino Daniele returns to the Apollo Theater for a festive night of world music. The Italian legend will perform songs from his collection of classic hits, which blend Neapolitan tradition with blues and rumba. Presented by Massimo Gallotta.
Howlin’ for Hubert: Celebrating the Musical Legacy of Hubert Sumlin
A benefit for the Jazz Foundation of America hosted at the Apollo on February 24, this tribute concert celebrated the musical legacy of the late Hubert Sumlin and his influence on today’s most accomplished guitarists. The concert featured performances by Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Keith Richards, Robert Randolph, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Jimmie Vaughn, and others.
About the Apollo Theater
The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on its legacy. New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations. The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.