Earlier this month, Amateur Night made its international debut at London’s famed Hackney Empire Theatre.
Hackney is a vibrant cultural hub in the heart of East London. Similar to the Apollo, Hackney Empire Theatre has a legendary history of providing quality entertainment and cultivating new stars since 1901.
The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire partnered for a transatlantic Amateur Night competition to coincide with the 2012 Summer Olympics. Amateur Night’s best up-and-coming vocalists brought a taste of Harlem, New York to London, England. Matthew Hashimoto, Nicole Vanessa Ortiz, Cyrille Aimee, Charles Mack and Lianah Sta. Ana (Child Star of Tomorrow) were chosen as contestants by the infamous Apollo audience and the Amateur Night producer.
Hackney’s contestants, Paul Rajasegaram, Jermain Jackman, Jessica Symonds, Luke Burr and Amaria Braithwaite (Child Star), advanced by winning Live@theEmpire – their new variety talent show.
The Amateur Night contestants arrived in London’s fastest growing destination, East London, and stayed at the RE London Shoreditch. Their excitement and curiosity awaited the upcoming days of intense rehearsals and ultimately, the big competition, with a special opportunity to collaborate on an opening song. The group quickly bonded and formed friendships throughout the five days.
On Saturday, July 14, Hackney vs. Harlem was hosted by top British entertainers, Tameka Empson (EastEnders) and Kat B (MTV Base), with special judges Kanya King (MOBO Founder), Rudimental, Henry Village (Black Butter Records), Ray Shell (American performer), Jasmine Dotiwala (The Voice Newspaper) and Ayanna Witter-Johnson (Amateur Night: Super Top Dog Winner 2010). The show featured text voting from the audience, a dance contest, and an appearance by comedian Kojo and leading actress Emi Wokoma (Tina Turner in Soul Sister).
First place went to Jermain Jackman (Hackney), Jessica Symonds (Hackney) took 2nd place and Cyrille Aimee (Harlem) finished the competition with 3rd place. The night ended with a huge celebration/after-party.
The Apollo Theater and Hackney Empire contestants were mentored by several artists, producers and directors from both sides of the Atlantic. They experienced a once in a lifetime opportunity to collaborate with diverse performers and showcase their skills for a unique audience. The Apollo and Hackney are developing and growing new artists for future generations from opposite sides of the shores!