The Apollo enjoys international renown for its contributions to the evolution of American popular music of the 20th century. Since its opening in 1934, the Theater has served as a launch pad for some of the most important and innovative performers of our time. This tradition of supporting working artists and providing unique performance and entertainment experiences continues through a range of performance programs.
Amateur Night is the Apollo’s signature talent competition. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo and its notoriously “tough” audience 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, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. There is no more enduring and significant talent showcase in American history than Apollo’s Amateur Night.
Apollo Music is a program initiative designed to reclaim and expand our niche in the popular music arena, promote the work of a broader mix of artists and better serve our community and diverse audience base. The Apollo’s music programming will focus on a broad spectrum of popular music from the United States and diverse cultures throughout the world.
The Music Café is designed to attract inter-generational and forward-thinking artists and audiences alike. Featuring diverse performances across a myriad of genres - R&B, hip-hop, soul, jazz, pop, funk, and rock - the monthly series showcases artists from the independent music scene; some of the most talented, under the radar artists destined to impact the way music is heard and experienced. Some Music Café presentations will complement Apollo Music Main Stage events, such as Africa Now. The Music Café shows will be presented From October 2012 through June 2013 this season.
The Apollo Theater will launch its first global festival in June 2013. This new annual festival will bring artists from across the world and the United States to participate in a theme-based program of Main stage and Soundstage performances, workshops and other activities unique to a particular culture or art form. All festivals will include contemporary, multi-disciplinary work that might involve dance, theater, music, visual arts, and new media. One goal of the festival is to position the Apollo as a “gateway” for international artists to be presented and promoted in a highly visible New York City forum – The Apollo Theater - and tour to other communities in the United States.
The Apollo Theater’s Legacy series celebrates and re-envisions the music, theater, and dance legacy of the Apollo, Harlem, and African American culture. The projects are forward-looking, contemporary productions focused on the artists, arts forms, and places that were central to the growth and development of African American and American culture. These projects include emerging and established artists, historic and contemporary interpretations of classic music and dance work, and new compositions and choreography.
This Apollo new-works incubation and performance series features artists working in a broad spectrum of the performing arts, including new media. The Series provides a testing ground for new large-scale projects that may proceed be presented on the Apollo’s Main Stage or elsewhere, as well as developing new audiences. The Series offers a week of development on the Apollo’s Soundstage, culminating in two workshop performances.
The Apollo will present a variety of special projects in collaboration with other presenting and producing organizations. These projects include concert versions of new musicals, major poetry/music events, and other multi-disciplinary events. Many of these projects are conceived and led by master artists in their fields.