The Apollo Theater today announced its March programming, which builds on the institution’s longstanding role as a creative catalyst for Harlem, New York, and the nation. Signature programming, including Amateur Night and Apollo Music Café return and the Apollo partners with the World Music Institute to present the Africa Now festival and the Manhattan School of Music to present Ask Your Mama. Artistic and community programs continue to make the Apollo a vital cultural resource and an important platform for both emerging and established artists.
Since it opened in 1934, the Apollo Theater has been a cornerstone of the Harlem community and has launched and nurtured the careers of countless legendary performers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys. The Apollo’s 2013 programming reflects the Theater’s ongoing commitment to education, community, and artist development.
Highlights of the Apollo’s March programming include:
· The Apollo’s signature show, Amateur Night, returns on March 6 with special guest Ruben Studdard; the March 20 show is a special salute to Broadway;
· In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Apollo’s Education Program offers a career seminar, Behind the Scenes: Women of Color in the ArtsMarch 11;
· In collaboration with the World Music Institute, the Apollo presents Africa Now!, a weekend-long festival spotlighting Africa’s music scene hosted by celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson and featuring Blitz the Ambassador, Freshlyground, Lokua Kanza and Nneka March 15 and 16;
· Apollo Music Café, the series presenting diverse artistic voices on the Theater’s intimate soundstage, returns March 15 and 16 with The Soil, Sofia Rei and Alsarah;
· Apollo Legend Leslie Uggams’ one-woman show chronicles her historic career from Harlem to Broadway in Uptown/Downtown on March 18;
· Soprano Jessye Norman and Nnenna Freelon join the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia and conductor George Manahan for Ask Your Mama on March 23
Amateur Night 2013 Opening Night Featuring Special Guest Star Ruben Studdard and Amateur Night Spring Auditions
Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Coca-Cola
The highly anticipated 2013 season of the Apollo Theater’s signature weekly live show, Amateur Night, returns this March with an opening night followed by spring auditions. On Wednesday, March 6, Amateur Night will kick into high gear marking the 79th year of the world’s original talent competition. Since its inception in 1934, Amateur Night at the Apollo has been one of New York City’s most popular live entertainment experiences, attracting performers and audiences from all over the world. Hosted by comedian Capone, Amateur Night Opening Night will feature a special guest performance by Ruben Studdard. Studdard is a Grammy nominated multiplatinum selling recording artist who rose to fame as winner of the second season of American Idol. Since winning Idol, he has gone on to release five solo albums. Nicknamed the “Velvet Teddy Bear” by Apollo Legend Gladys Knight, Studdard is no stranger to the Apollo stage. In 2006 Studdard headlined a concert at the legendary theater. This performance will mark the singer’s first time performing at Apollo’s Amateur Night.
Amateur Night will feature staples like C.P. Lacey in the role of the “Executioner” (the character who sweeps “booed” contestants off the stage) and the Apollo’s Amateur Night house band, led by musical director Onree Gill. Fans of the show can also expect the return of Amateur Night Digital(www.amateurnight.org), a more recent addition to the Amateur Night experience. Highlights of the season include: special themed night shows includingBroadway Night on March 20. Tickets for Amateur Night begin at $20. Amateur Night’s 2013 Season runs from March 6, 2013, through November 2013, on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m.
Amateur Night Spring Auditions
Saturday, March 9, 2013, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
On Saturday, March 9, the world famous Apollo Theater will hold spring auditions for Amateur Night. Contestants chosen from these auditions will secure a spot in the Amateur Night 2013 season line-up. The adult contestants will have a chance to compete for the $10,000 grand prize while child contestants compete for a $2,000 grand prize. Singers, dancers, musicians, actors, spoken word poets, and comedians are all encouraged to try out for the show “where stars are born and legends are made.” Since the legendary theater opened in 1934 Amateur Night has been a definitive career-making opportunity for new talent. Apollo Amateur Night has launched the careers of countless legendary artists including James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Dionne Warwick, Billie Holiday, Luther Vandross, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Sarah Vaughan, and has occurred virtually every Wednesday night since the Theater opened. A place in the Amateur Night line-up is a highly coveted opportunity for up-and-coming artists hoping to be discovered.
Career Panel Behind the Scenes: Women of Color in the Arts
Monday, March 11, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
The Apollo Theater’s Education Program will present a free behind-the-scenes career panel discussion, Behind the Scenes: Women of Color in the Arts.Presented in collaboration with Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), the panel will feature women of color who work behind the scenes in performing arts administration. They will share their experiences and offer advice to those pursuing a career in arts administration. A Q&A session will follow.
Moderated by AnaMaria Correa (Ballet Hispanico), the panel will include Mikki Shepard, (Apollo Theater), Claudia Norman (CN Management/Mexico Now Festival), Monique Martin (City Parks Summerstage) and JJ El-Far (Harlem Arts Festival).
Prior to the career panel, there will be a seminar on marketing and public relations for the performing arts, facilitated by Donna Walker-Kuhne. Career panels at the Apollo are part of the Apollo Theater Academy, a program which advances career and leadership skills through seminars, workshops, panels, and internships focused on professions “behind the-scenes” in the arts and entertainment industries. The career panel begins at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. Space is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. RSVP required at www.apolloeducation.org Programs, panelists and dates are subject to change.
Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, 2013
The Apollo Theater, in collaboration with World Music Institute, presents Africa Now!, a weekend-long festival spotlighting today’s African music scene. The festival will feature a powerful lineup of artists who have drawn upon their roots for inspiration and transplanted them onto the global music landscape.Africa Now! will be anchored by a blow-out concert, hosted by celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, on the Apollo Main Stage featuring: revolutionary Ghanaian hip-hop star Blitz the Ambassador; the Cape Town-based, multi-racial septet Freshlyground; internationally renowned singer Lokua Kanza; and Nigerian-German hip-hop/soul songstress Nneka. With DJ Chief Boima.
Artist Conversation: Africa Now! – Soundstage
Friday, March 15, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
A meet-the-artists panel discussion with participating Africa Now! artists focused on how their cultural identities inform their unique brand of music and how, in turn, that music fosters global exchange and transformation. The discussion will be moderated by WBAI’s Esther Armah. This event is free to the public. Space is limited. Reservations required. www.apollotheater.org
Apollo Music Café: Africa Now!
Friday, March 15, 2013, Show at 10 p.m., Doors at 9 p.m.
The Music Café series celebrates Africa Now! with a new South African voice, The Soil. The Soil, a four-member a cappella singing group whose music can best be described as “Kasi Soul,” embodies the next generation of South African choral singing. Bringing soulful new anthems from the townships in lush four-part harmonies punctuated with percussive beat boxing, the group members strive to fuse their voices to deliver melodic and harmonious messages that are aimed at uplifting and healing souls all around the world. Tickets are $15 in advance for those on the Apollo’s A-List and $20 general admission.
Family Showtime Performance
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 11 a.m.
Freshlyground, the Cape Town-based, multiracial septet that has achieved superstardom in South Africa and Europe, brings its infectious grooves to Apollo Family Showtime. Its upbeat Afropop blend has earned the group number-one hits, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup theme “Waka Waka,” which was sung with Shakira. At times referencing a maskanda rhythm or incorporating mbira (thumb-piano), or singing Xhosa, a language spoken in South Africa, Freshlyground’s irresistible grooves delight stadiums of fans. Tickets are $10.
Apollo’s Africa Now! – Mainstage
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 8 p.m.
An Apollo Main Stage concert hosted by celebrity chef, Marcus Samuelsson with DJ Chief Boima featuring: Blitz the Ambassador, a Ghanaian-born rapper who, with his brass-heavy Embassy Ensemble, unites worlds of hip-hop, Afrobeat, highlife, and soukous; Nneka, the Nigerian-German hip-hop/soul songstress who draws on reggae, blues, folk, and rap in her anthems of protest and struggle; the Cape Town-based, multiracial pop sensation Freshlyground; and Congolese troubadour Lokua Kanza, whose haunting voice and folk-like songs have made him one of the most beloved African stars of the last 20 years. Hear how these artists have drawn upon their roots for inspiration and transplanted them into the global music landscape. Tickets are $30, $40, and $55.
Apollo Music Café
The Theater’s groundbreaking Apollo Music Café showcases creative underground artists in a series of diverse performances across genres, including R&B, hip hop, soul, jazz, pop, funk, and rock. Presented in the Theater’s intimate Soundstage, the series continues the Apollo’s longstanding commitment to presenting diverse and innovative artistic voices. Upcoming performances include:
Friday, March 15, Show at 10 p.m., Doors at 9 p.m.
The Soil, a four-member a cappella singing group whose music can best be described as “Kasi Soul,” embodies the next generation of South African choral singing. Bringing soulful new anthems from the townships in lush four-part harmonies punctuated with percussive beat boxing, the group strives to fuse their voices to deliver melodic and harmonious messages that are aimed at uplifting and healing souls all around the world. A part of Africa Now!
Sofia Rei and Alsarah
Saturday, March 16, Show at 10 p.m., Doors at 9 p.m.
Sofía Rei is one of the most passionate, charismatic, and inventive vocalists on the current New York music scene. Her music explores connections between the various traditions of South American folklore, jazz, and electronic sounds. Singing in Spanish, Portuguese, or English, Sofia’s style brings more than the depth and fullness of a riveting voice, tying together diverse influences in a program full of rhythmic complexity, and a melodic purity that haunts even as it uplifts. Her ensemble produces a range of textures as diverse as the cultural roots of its members. Alsarah is a Sudanese-born singer, songwriter, and ethnomusicologist. She performs music from different parts of the Middle East and East Africa. She has worked with The Sounds of Taraab performing classical Taraab music from Zanzibar and Kenya ranging from the 1940s-today. Heavily influenced by different styles of music from her native home to her adopted one, she is putting together an album of original material to be released later this year. Tickets are $15 in advance for those on the Apollo’s A-List and $20 general admission.
Apollo Legend Leslie Uggams: Uptown/Downtown- Soundstage
Wednesday, March 18, 8 p.m.
The Apollo pays tribute to Broadway with a special performance by Apollo legend and Tony Award winner, Leslie Uggams in her one-woman autobiographical musical, Uptown/Downtown. Presented on the Apollo Soundstage, this magical evening charts her historic career from Harlem to Broadway and everywhere in between. Directed by Michael Bush, Uptown/Downtown also includes Ms. Uggams’ swinging pop-jazz quintet, led by conductor Don Rebic with Steve Bargonetti (guitar), Dan Block (woodwinds), Ray Kilday (bass), and Ray Marchica (drums).
In Uptown/Downtown, Uggams puts her own personal stamp on classic songs which mark milestones in her Uptown (Harlem) and Downtown (Broadway) careers. Her songs punctuate her life-long relationship with the Apollo by highlighting her beginnings as a nine-year-old opening for greats like Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington and pay homage to her illustrious Broadway career with “My Own Morning” and “Being Good” which recall her Tony-winning performance in Hallelujah, Baby! Tickets for Uptown/Downtown are $50. Special price for Harlem residents: $30 at the Apollo Theater Box Office only. Group tickets (10 or more) are $23, $31, and $43.
Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz
Saturday, March 23, 2013, 8 p.m.
The Apollo Theater and Manhattan School of Music will join forces to present Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, a 90-minute sonic tapestry of music, film, and spoken word by Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman based on Langston Hughes’s “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” that bursts the boundaries of time, place, and verbal expression to trace the currents and tributaries of cultural diasporas. Conducted by George Manahan this collaboration between Grammy Award-winning soprano Jessye Norman and Laura Karpman will feature jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon and the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Sinfonia.
Langston Hughes conceived his 1961 epic “Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” as an interdisciplinary creation, including in the margins suggestions for types of music including hot jazz, German lieder, cha-cha, patriotic songs, post-bop, and Middle Eastern, as well as specific songs like “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” all of which he meant to accompany his words. Karpman’s composition brings these imaginings to life, combining Hughes’ language with sounds that come together to evoke the turbulent flux and flow of American cultural life, making the 50-year-old text startlingly current. Tickets are $35, $55, $75, and $125 (VIP tickets).