Posts Tagged With: apollo theater

Stevie Wonder Inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame

Stevie Wonder attends Monday's event at the Apollo Theater (Photo courtesy of Jeff Mays and DNAinfo)

The singer was lauded as a great musician and humanitarian at the historic performance space.

By Jeff Mays
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame in a star-studded event capped by a jam session that brought together stars from the world of hip-hop, jazz, pop and gospel music.

“I thank God for love and I thank God for song,” Wonder said Monday during his acceptance speech after singing a short duet of his well-known song “For Once in My Life” with Tony Bennett.

The stars in attendance at the event, that also serves as a fundraiser for the Harlem theater, included Robert De Niro, Spike Lee, Phylicia Rashad, Gabourey Sidibe, Rev. Al Sharpton, Wyclef Jean, Sherri Shepherd, and host Sinbad.

Attendees said Wonder’s music provided a soundtrack for the nation and even inspired social change.

Artists like Chick Corea, Melanie Fiona, Yolanda Adams and Take 6 lauded Wonder by performing some of his greatest hits. Doug E. Fresh joined Wonder for a beat box version of “All I Do,” along with Questlove, drummer for The Roots.

“What took ’em so long?” director Spike Lee said about Wonder’s induction. “A lot of time we wait until people are dead. Let’s honor the greats while they’re still alive and can enjoy it.”
Wonder’s fellow Motown singer Martha Reeves agreed.

“This awards ceremony is just in time. We’ve lost a lot,” she said.
That’s why Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of the Apollo Theater, said she was moving to honor as many music legends as possible. Last year, Gladys Knight’s star on the Apollo Walk of Fame was revelead.

“I like the idea of recognizing them while they’re still alive,” she said.

Not that Wonder is going anywhere. Wonder said he was still a “young 61” before leading an all-star jam session of his songs that had the crowd on its feet for much of the night.

“He inspired me to be a better artist,” said Yolanda Adams who performed a soulful version of “Love in Need of Love.” “There are a lot of people who do one thing but they don’t do everything. This man can do everything.”

That includes inspiring the nation, said the Rev. Al Sharpton, noting that many commercial artists shied away from message songs, but not Wonder.

“He single-handedly got the whole nation to talk about Martin Luther King’s birthday,” Sharpton said of the song “Happy Birthday” that Wonder recorded to make the case for a national holiday for the slain civil rights leader.

“When Stevie came out with that song he changed the whole mood of America. He gave us the first federal holiday for a person of color in this country,” Sharpton added.

Corea says Wonder’s activism was always wrapped in amazing music.

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Apollo Amateur Night to Tackle Broadway Playbook

Cavelle Nell Romeo will sing the classic "And I am Telling You" from Dreamgirls at the Apollo Amateur Night: Broadway (Photo courtesy of Apollo Theater and DNAinfo.com)

By Jeff Mays
DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

HARLEM — It’s gonna be a “Hard Knock Life” on 125th Street next week — and not the Jay-Z version.

Broadway is coming uptown to the Apollo Theater as the legendary venue hosts its first-ever Broadway-themed Amateur Night on March 16.

Amateurs looking to win the $10,000 grand prize are going to have to impress the notoriously finicky audience by performing songs taken from Broadway shows.

“A lot of our legends have gone on to do Broadway and this is a way to reaffirm those roots,” said Amateur Night producer, Marion
J. Caffey.

Stephanie Mills, Leslie Uggams and Diahann Carroll are just a few of the Apollo legends to have made it downtown to the Broadway stage.

The Apollo is looking for the next person to add to that list.

Co-hosting the show will be Broadway stars, Tsidii Le Loka of The Lion King and Chaz Shepherd of Dreamgirls.

Some of the songs to be sung in the March 16 show have had an airing out on the Apollo stage, such as “And I Am Telling You” from Dreamgirls. Others, such as “The Winner Takes It All” from Mama Mia may not be as familiar.

Amateur Night, first created in 1934, has been changing it up recently with different themed Amateur Nights, including “Brooklyn Night”, “Teacher’s Night” and a “Gospel Night.”

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NY Exhibit Pays Homage to Apollo, Black Music Greats

(Reuters) – From Michael Jackson to James Brown, Harlem’s The Apollo Theater is famed for helping launch some of the most successful figures in U.S. black entertainment and marking their influence in popular culture.

A new exhibit, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” displays images, videos and artifacts including instruments, shoes and costumes from music greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. who performed at the theater over the past 75 years.

From swing to Motown to hip hop, it details the 1500-seat music hall’s history of propelling styles of music and artists that have graced its stage from Nat King Cole in the 1940s to its famed Apollo Amateur Night, which helped the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and The Jackson 5.

The exhibit, held from Feb 8 to May 1 at the Museum of the City of New York, also explores Harlem’s history as a hub of U.S. black culture and the theater’s role in hosting memorial services for James Brown and a public tribute to Michael Jackson.

Jackson first performed at Amateur Night at age 9 with his brothers. Their group, the Jackson 5, won the competition in 1969, when the pop singer was 11 years old, performing Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.”

“When I think of a soundtrack for the second half of the twentieth century, it’s the music that was launched by the Apollo,” Susan Henshaw Jones, director of the Museum of the City of New York, said in a statement.

Letters from Martin Luther King and Frank Schiffman, the owner of the Apollo from 1935 until his death in 1974, are also included in the exhibit.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Jill Serjeant)

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NYC Museum Features Exhibition on Apollo Theater

NEW YORK (AP) – New York City’s Apollo Theater launched the careers of such legends as Ella Fitzgerald. It was also the site of memorial services for Michael Jackson and James Brown, and Barack Obama’s 2007 campaign rally.

A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York will highlight these and other seminal events of the 75-year-old Harlem landmark.

The exhibit, “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” will run from Feb. 8 to May 1.

Highlights include record album covers, costumes and accessories belonging to Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and other iconic artists.

It also will include letters from Adam Clayton Powell and Martin Luther King Jr.

The show has been organized by the Apollo and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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