HARLEM - This February, the world famous Apollo Theater will host a series of culturally rich programs and educational events to commemorate African-American History Month. The month kicks off with the not-for-profit Theater’s Open House Weekend, Saturday, February 5th and Sunday, February 6th. The Open House is a free event that gives members of the Harlem community, New York City residents and visitors alike an opportunity to explore the history of one of America’s most celebrated national theaters and to sample the Apollo’s wide array of artistic and cultural programming. On Wednesday, February 9th, the Apollo, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Arts Council, will hold the first-ever Amateur Night at the Apollo: Brooklyn Night, celebrating the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Black Brooklyn Renaissance, and featuring a lineup of contestants who all hail from Brooklyn, NY.
The month of February also brings the opening of Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment—the first national exhibition to explore the history and cultural impact of the Apollo—at the Museum of the City of New York. Also in February, downtown comes uptown to Harlem as the Apollo introduces Apollo Music Café, a brand new concert series showcasing creative underground artists across an array of music genres, performing in a club-like atmosphere on the Theater’s intimate Soundstage. Atlanta underground queen Joi will kick-off the series with two shows on February 11th and 12th andGhanaian-American hip-hop artist Blitz the Ambassador will perform on February 14th.
Full listings on each program follow below.
Open House Weekend
February 5 and 6, 2011
the world famous Apollo Theater will open its doors for one weekend– Saturday, February 5th and Sunday, February 6th– to give members of the Harlem community, New York City residents and visitors alike, a glimpse into the Apollo’s rich history. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the Theater and step onto the legendary stage where many of the biggest icons in entertainment have launched their careers. Open House Weekend will feature displays of Apollo memorabilia, live performances from past winners of the Apollo’s signature program, Amateur Night, and multi-media presentations on Apollo Theater history, among a host of other activities.
Highlights for Open House Weekend include special auditions for the new season of Amateur Night, held on the Theater’s soundstage on Saturday from 9am – noon (for details see schedule). Also on Saturday, the Apollo Theater’s Education Program will present workshops that teach various dances styles that have been performed at the Apollo throughout the 1930s through the 1960s, ranging from the Lindy Hop to the Hand Jive to the Jerk.
On Sunday, the Education Program will present interactive visual arts and crafts activities for children between the ages of 5-1o and their families. Healthy living initiatives will also be provided throughout the weekend, with free blood pressure and glucose screenings by Harlem Hospital Center’s Community Health Education and Outreach Program and activities from Aetna Healthy Dancers/Healthy Families Initiative presented by the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Additional health information and resources will be provided by Aetna, Healthy Eating and Living, the Harlem YMCA and Harlem Hospital Center.
The Open House Weekend also includes an array of performances on the Apollo’s main stage. Hosted by comedian Capone, Apollo in-house historian Billy Mitchell and WBLS-FM/WLIB-AM’s “Dr.” Bob Lee , artists from the BMCC Tribeca PAC, Harlem Arts Alliance, Harlem Opera Theater, Harlem School of the Arts, Hip-Hop Culture Center in Harlem, the MTA’s Music Under New York, NYCHA Community Programs, and Urban Word NYC will be performing on the legendary main stage. Amateur Night producers will be on hand during these performances scouting for talent for the new season of Amateur Night. Also performing is Amateur Night Star of Tomorrow winner Tiffani Obi.
The Apollo Theater aims to serve the community as a cultural anchor and shed light on other organizations in Harlem and throughout New York City that help make Harlem one of the cultural capitals of the world. The Apollo’s Open House Weekend, sponsored by Target, with additional support provided by Aetna, is free to the public and will feature entertainment and information provided by The Apollo Theater, BMCC Tribeca PAC, Children’s Art Carnival, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Genesis II, Harlem Opera Theater, Harlem Hospital Center, Healthy Living and Eating, Harlem School of the Arts, Harlem Stage, Harlem YMCA, Hip-Hop Culture Center in Harlem, Jazzmobile, MTA Music Under New York, The Museum of the City of New York, NYCHA Community Programs, Supa DJ King James, Urban Word NYC, WABC-TV, WBLS-FM, and WLIB-AM. Visit www.apollotheater.org for more details.
Amateur Night at the Apollo: Brooklyn Night
February 9, 2011 at 7:30pm
On February 9th, Amateur Night at the Apollo, in conjunction with the Brooklyn Arts Council, will hold the first-ever Amateur Night at the Apollo: Brooklyn Night, celebrating Brooklyn Arts Council’s Black Brooklyn Renaissance, and featuring a lineup of contestants all hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Throughout the night, Brooklyn-based singers, dancers, rappers and performance groups will hit the legendary Apollo stage to represent for their borough and attempt to impress the notoriously tough Amateur Night audience.
Special guest artist and Brooklyn born MC, Talib Kweli, will also be in the house to perform some of his biggest hits. Talib Kweli has worked with artists as diverse as Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Mary J. Blige, Fabolous, Common, Nelly, The Roots, Gucci Mane, Norah Jones, KRS-One and a host of others. Kweli is known for his intellectual lyrics and melodic rhyming, a prime example of the artistic brilliance that spawns from Brooklyn.
Long before American Idol and other talent shows, Amateur Night at the Apollo was, and continues to be, a primary source for discovering new talent and spotlighting up-and-coming artists., and attracts contestants and spectators from all over the world. Brooklyn Night will take place on Wednesday, February 9th at 7:30pm. Amateur Night at the Apollo is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. The collaboration between the Apollo Theater and the Brooklyn Art’s Council (BAC) is in celebration of BAC’s year-long initiative Black Brooklyn Renaissance: Black Arts + Culture, 1960 - 2010, sponsored by MetLife Foundation.
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing:
How the Apollo Theater Shapes American Entertainment
On View at the Museum of the City of New York
February 8 – May 1, 2011
The first exhibition to explore the Apollo Theater’s seminal impact on American popular culture will be presented this spring at the Museum of the City of New York. The traveling exhibition, organized by the Apollo Theater and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, examines the rich history and cultural significance of the legendary Harlem theater, tracing the story from its origins as a segregated burlesque hall to its starring role at the epicenter of African American entertainment and American popular culture.
With a dazzling array of images, videos, costumes, artifacts, and text, Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing brings to life many of the most groundbreaking personalities and moments in the history of music, while shining a spotlight on the impact of African-American artists on American culture. Highlights include Michael Jackson’s fedora, dresses worn by Ella and The Supremes, Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, Willie Nelson’s bandanna and sneakers, LL Cool J’s jacket, James Brown’s cape and jumpsuit, Sammy Davis’ childhood tap shoes, and Miles Davis’ flugelhorn (on public view for the first time).
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing was organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation. The exhibition’s national tour is made possible by a generous grant from Time Warner Inc. Additional funding is provided by J. P. Morgan. The exhibition’s national tour is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
Apollo Music Café:
Joi -Friday, February 11th and Saturday, February 12th
Blitz the Ambassador - Monday, February 14th
Doors Open at 9pm, Show at 10pm
Long celebrated as a platform dedicated to artistic brilliance and innovation, the world famous Apollo Theater introduces a brand new series, Apollo Music Café. Sponsored by Heineken, the Apollo Music Café will showcase an array of creative underground artists in a series of diverse performances across genres. Premiering in February 2011 and occurring monthly through June 2011, Music Café series expands the Apollo experience beyond the legendary Main Stage into its intimate third-floor Soundstage. The Music Café will be the first show to take place in the Theater’s newly renovated Soundstage, which will be transformed into a lounge atmosphere, complete with a bar and intimate tables near the stage.
Kicking off the Apollo Music Café series is Atlanta’s funk and R&B underground queen, Joi. A distinguished singer, song-writer and producer, Joi has been in the music industry for over 15 years and is most notably associated with the Dungeon Family, OutKast, and Lucy Pearl. Joi’s unique sound and soulful voice was the first to be credited as neo-soul music. She has released four solo studio albums, her most well-known single being “Lick,” which was featured in the blockbuster film “XXX” with Vin Diesel. Joi’s fan base extends from her hometown of Atlanta, to stars such as Madonna and Joss Stone.
Closing out the first month of Music Café performances is Blitz the Ambassador. Born and raised in Accra, Ghana, Blitz grew up to the sounds of Afro-Beat, Highlife, Jazz, and Motown. After graduating from Kent State University, Blitz moved to Brooklyn, NY to pursue his music career. Blitz later recorded Stereotype, a live-instrument-heavy musical album that pushed the limits of the hip-hop genre. He then formed a band, The Embassy Ensemble, and often draws inspiration from his diverse musical background. Blitz makes music with the intent of changing hip-hop forever.
Music Café is designed to create opportunities for emerging artists to shine, while cultivating unique experiences for its audience. Performances in Music Café include a diverse mix of live music, poetry, spoken word, comedy and spinning DJ’s.
Apollo Music Café is made possible by generous support from Heineken, the Official Imported Beer Sponsor of the Apollo Theater’s 2010-11 Season. This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
About the Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater is one of Harlem’s, New York City’s, and America’s most iconic and enduring cultural institutions. 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. 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.
The Apollo’s annual programming is made possible by lead support from: The Coca-Cola Company, the Edward and Leslye Phillips Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bloomberg, and the Neuberger Berman Foundation.
Additional support for the Apollo’s 2010-2011 activities is provided by public funds from: the National Endowment for the Arts; The City of New York: Theater Subdistrict Council; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Council Member Inez E. Dickens, Speaker Christine Quinn, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; and the State of New York: the New York State Council on the Arts, Senator Bill Perkins, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.