Apollo Theater to Unveil Apollo Legends
Walk of Fame Inaugural Ceremony will Include Installation of Plaques for
Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald
In Sidewalk under the Historic Theaters Famed Marquee
Monday, May 10, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.
What: The Apollo Theater is installing a Walk of Fame on the 125th Street sidewalk in front of the landmark Theater to honor legendary performers with close ties to the institution. The first plaques will be installed for the iconic entertainers who have been inducted into the Theaters Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, including: Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald.
Who: Jonelle Procope, president & CEO and Billy Mitchell, Apollo Historian, will place the first plaques in the ground after a short dedication ceremony. Interviews available upon request.
Where: Under the marquee at the world-famous Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th Street, Harlem
About the Apollo Theater: Currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, the Apollo Theater is one of Harlems, New York Citys, and Americas most iconic and enduring cultural institutions and is one of New Yorks most visited tourist destinations in the worlds most famous neighborhood.
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, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, DAngelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollos stage. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the non-profit Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tour Director and In-House Historian
Apollo Theater Foundation
To tourists, Apollo Theater patrons, celebrity entertainers and friends in the Harlem community, Billy Mitchell is Mr. Apollo. Spirited and charming, Mr. Mitchell knows the Apollo Theater like the back of his hand and is one of the longest tenured employees at the historic venue. In 1991, Mr. Mitchell was named the Apollo Theater’s Historical Tour Manager and is now the landmark theaters Tour Director and resident historian.
Billy Mitchell was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York as the fifth of fourteen children. As a young boy, he and his friends would go to see Amateur Night at the Apollo. It was on one of his first visits that Billy witnessed the making of a legend first hand, when a nine year old Michael Jackson and his brothers won the amateur contest. From that day on, Billy would hop on the train to 125th Street after school and on weekends position himself at the Apollos backstage entrance, and offer shoe shines and run errands for Apollo performers. In 1984, Billy was hired by the Apollo as an usher. Since then, he has worn almost every hat the theater has to offer including gift shop manager, stagehand, and even Amateur Night Producer, where he auditioned and coordinated the weekly productions. He was also responsible for the Apollos first Caribbean Music Award Show and produced many of the theaters childrens performances.
Over the course of his Apollo tenure, Billy Mitchell has interacted with thousands of visitors from around the world, transporting them through pivotal eras in Harlem and Apollo Theater history with a unique presentation that is part vaudeville and part historical lecture. With his countless backstage memories and stories about Apollo legends like James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Mahalia Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, Denzel Washington, Ossie Davis, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations, Mr. Mitchell provides unique behind-the-scenes insight that only a true insider can give. Additional information about the Apollo Theater and interviews with Billy Mitchell are available upon request