NEW YORK, NY.-
To celebrate its 75th birthday, the Apollo Theater
today unveiled anniversary programming designed to illuminate the vital impact the landmark Theater has had on American culture and audiences nationwide, and to showcase its role as a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the nation. Since it opened its doors in January, 1934, the world-famous Apollo Theater has been a pioneer in presenting the cultural contributions of black and Latino communities and in launching and nurturing the careers of seemingly countless legendary performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill, and Alicia Keys.
From January 2009 through the beginning of 2011, the Apollos 75th Anniversary Season will be celebrated in Harlem and across the country and will include special performances and programs as well as a wide range of national and community offerings. Among the seasons many highlights are:
-A national, touring exhibition in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of African American History and Culture to explore the history and impact of the Apollo and its role in shaping music and culture around the world. The exhibitionthe first of its kindwill draw upon the Apollo Theater Archive to showcase rarely seen Apollo photographs, video clips, and other artifacts and memorabilia, and will open in April 2010 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., with an accompanying book to be developed and published in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution Press and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
-A series of special 75th anniversary performances, including: the national launch of Dreamgirls; a series of events in conjunction with Honor!, a festival celebrating African-American culture in partnership with Carnegie Hall and curated by celebrated soprano Jessye Norman; and an intimate evening with soul music superstar John Legend.
-A special edition of the Apollos signature Amateur Night, its longest-running franchise, under the leadership of new producer Marion J. Caffey on January 28, 2009. The event will include special guests, Amateur Night alumni, and a birthday cake.
-The launch of a music and performing arts celebration, Inspired!, in October 2010, which will feature artists across generations learning from one another and performing together.
-The Apollo will hold Open Houses in February and October 2009 featuring tours of the theater led by in-house historian Billy Mitchell, film screenings about the Apollos history, and a mini exhibition featuring photos of key Apollo figures and legendary performers at milestone moments.
-Plans for a documentary film co-produced by Emmy Award-winner Charles Hobson and directed by noted filmmaker Stanley Nelson, as well as a television special to be produced by the legendary Ron Weisner.
Since 1934, the Apollo has had an enormous impact on American culture, and has been the launching pad and nurturer of literally thousands of performers, many of whom have gone on to become legends, said Jonelle Procope, President and CEO of the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. This is the very stage where Ella Fitzgerald invented scat when she performed in Amateur Night. This is the very place where James Brown discovered that he had soul, and that taught Aretha Franklin to properly curtsy. Our anniversary season has been designed to reflect our extraordinary role as one of Americas most important cultural resources. New talent will continue to stretch our boundaries, legendary performers will continue to grace our stage, and our incredibly rich history will be magnified through the lenses of our many program partners.
The Apollo has always been about whats next, said Richard D. Parsons, Chairman of the Apollo Theaters board. Since our founding, Apollo artists and audiences have transformed the taste of the American public. From the days of Ella Fitzgerald inventing scat, to the emergence of rap and hip hop, our discriminating audience has had a critical role in making history. With the 75th Anniversary Season, were celebrating our mission of innovation in the next 75 years by looking ahead. We have and will continue to push the boundaries of new art forms in American popular culture.
The Apollo is operated by the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit institution currently in the midst of a $96 million capital campaign, more than half of which has already been raised. The funds will be used to complete a phased project to enhance, upgrade and expand the legendary theaters facilities and to support future programming. The Apollo has been a driving force in shaping Americas music and cultural landscape for 75 years. Throughout that time, the Apollo has been one of the few American venues where the tradition of discovering and promoting amateurs is as important as presenting established stars, making it an exceptional community of musicians and artists.