The Apollo Theater’s 2017 Line-Up of Talent and Thrills



The Apollo Theater has announced additional details for the Winter/Spring programs as part of its 2017 season. The new schedule includes a slate of dynamic programming encompassing festivals, and collaborations with artists and world class arts organizations as well as a wide array of thought-provoking and socially engaging community forums and a host a of education programs for students, young professionals and families. This current season extends the nonprofit institution’s commitment to the creation of new, innovative works that draw upon the Theater’s rich legacy to support emerging and established artists, and to provide a safe space to explore and push boundaries.

A few highlights of the Apollo’s Winter/Spring 2017 programs include:

The Apollo Theater Presents AFROPUNK Unapologetically Black: The African American Songbook Remixed A Celebration of Black Protest Music, which is a partnership with the international cultural movement AFROPUNK (Saturday, February 25, 2017), that pays homage to black protest music and the influential artist activists. Under the creative and musical direction of accomplished pianist and producer Robert Glasper, this big band performance will feature special guests from the popular and alternative music scenes including three-time GRAMMY-Award®  R&B star Jill Scott, R&B crooner Bilal, singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon and Staceyann Chin.

The return of the Apollo’s notable series Africa Now!, presented in partnership with the World Music Institute (Saturday, March 11, 2017), celebrates the best of today’s music from across the African continent. This installment of Africa Now! will include performances from Congolese sensation Mbongwana Star, West African desert punk group Songhoy Blues, Cape Verdean vocalist Lura, and the Nigerian born DJ Nenim.

WOW – Women of the World Festival (May 4-7, 2017), marks the Apollo’s second collaboration with London’s Southbank Centre. The festival will honor and recognize the work of women from diverse backgrounds and explore a variety of issues that affect women across cultural, civic, and social boundaries with a mix of performances, conversations, workshops. WOW also includes a special presentation from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that honors the legendary jazz vocalist and activist Abbey Lincoln featuring three-time GRAMMY-Award® winning jazz songstress Dee Dee Bridgewater and Esperanza Spalding. This performance is under the music direction of multi-talented award-winning composer Terri Lyne Carrington.  Additionally, the weekend features an evening of powerful storytelling with The Moth.

The Apollo Salon Series presents Maurice Chestnut’s new Work-In-Progress, “Beats + Rhymes + Tap Shoes.”  The Apollo Salon Series is the Theater’s new works program, providing valuable resources and exposure to some of today’s most innovative performing artists.  Beats + Rhymes + Tap Shoes is a dance piece that explores and reimagines the music of popular hip hop group, A Tribe Called Quest, through tap and jazz.

Additionally this season, the Theater will host an Open House free to the public (February 4, 2017); a special edition of Apollo Uptown Hall: Trial By Jury, will take on the most provocative, polarizing and debated word in America -The “N-Word”(February 26, 2017); a new season of Amateur Night, now in its 83rd year (beginning February 22, 2017) and the continued celebration continue honoring the centennial of Apollo legend Ella Fitzgerald with Apollo Live Wire – Ella! A Centennial Celebration (Thursday, May 3, 2017).

“We’re excited to present a season filled with such great original programming that ties in directly to the Apollo’s DNA of innovation, collaboration and community,” said Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater. “This season embodies our commitment to bringing in programming that is as diverse as our audiences and that builds upon the Apollo’s rich legacy in contemporary ways.”

Winter/Spring 2017 season programming calendar follows below:

The Apollo Theater Presents AFROPUNK Unapologetically Black: The African American Songbook Remixed A Celebration of Black Protest Music

Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 7:30pm

Creative and Musical Direction by Robert Glasper

Featuring special guests Jill Scott, Bilal, Toshi Reagon and Staceyann Chin

From Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, to Public Enemy’s Fight the Power, to James Brown’s Say it Loud, and Bob Marley’s iconic call-to-action, War, the Apollo stage has been an incubator and platform for music that sparks consciousness, celebrates empowerment, and births revolutions.   

The Theater continues in this tradition by partnering with the international cultural movement, AFROPUNK, to present Unapologetically Black, an all-star big band performance experience under the creative and music direction of jazz pianist and composer Robert Glasper.  The evening, featuring special guests from both the popular and alternative music scenes including soul music chanteuse Jill Scott, Bilal, Toshi Reagon and Staceyann Chin will pay homage to black protest music and artists who have celebrated the power of being unapologetically black.

Described by the New York Times as “The most multicultural festival in the US,” AFROPUNK began as a web magazine dedicated to celebrating alternative culture and activism, reaching millions across its social networks. Aside from having festival stops in Brooklyn, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Paris, this event marks the first time AFROPUNK will be making a stop in Harlem, NY, bringing two world-renowned institutions of arts and culture together.

Africa Now! : Presented in Partnership with World Music Institute

Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 8:00 p.m.

Featuring: Mbongwana Star, Songhoy Blues, Lura and DJ Nenim

The Apollo’s fifth installment of this popular concert series celebrates the best of today’s African music scene and features Kinshasa born music sensation Mbongwana Star, whose eclectic melodies combine a perfect blend of Congolese rhythms and European post-punk bass. Songhoy Blues’ unique sound honors the essence of the Mali people, while fusing elements of contemporary rock and hip hop. Labeled as one of the most vibrant and charismatic singer’s in Cape Verdean’s new generation of singers, Lura brings the power in her up-tempo and energizing performance. Afrofunk sensation DJ Nenim is no stranger to the stage. His eclectic playlists have placed him in some of the biggest clubs in Nigeria.

The Apollo Theater Presents Southbank Centre London’s WOW – Women of the World Festival

Thursday, May 4 –Sunday May, 7 2017

Presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Featuring Esperanza Spaulding and Dee Dee Bridgewater

Musical Direction by Terri Lyne Carrington

WOW – Women of the World Festival – returns to the Apollo main stage this spring after a successful premiere at the Apollo in 2015. Founded in 2011 by Southbank’s Artistic Director Jude Kelly and originating at Southbank Centre, London, the international festival celebrates women’s achievements and explores the issues that women face globally. The Apollo’s WOW Festival will feature a unique mix of performances, discussions, workshops, and celebrates the work of women from diverse backgrounds.

Highlights of the WOW Festival include a tribute to civil rights activist and legendary songstress Abbey Lincoln presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; under the musical direction of Grammy Award-winning composer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington, and featuring jazz singers Esperanza Spalding and Dee Dee Bridgewater. The NEA Jazz Master was beloved for her powerful and unique voice, as well as for pursuing her art with integrity and turning music into a genuine celebration of life.

Additionally, the weekend features an evening of powerful storytelling with The Moth.

The Moth is dedicated to promoting the art & craft of storytelling and celebrates the ability of stories to honor both the diversity and commonality of human experience, and to satisfy a vital human need for connection. The Moth has presented over 18,000 stories to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.  The evening includes five true stories, told live and without notes.

The festival schedule includes special presentations of Apollo Signature Programs (Live Wire, Apollo Comedy Club, Apollo Music Café, and Apollo Uptown Hall) among other sessions and workshops.


Amateur Night at the Apollo

Sponsored by Coca Cola

Opening Night February 22, 2017

Weekly, Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. through November2017

The Apollo Theater’s signature program, Amateur Night, continues to be a resource for discovering new talent and a defining experience for many emerging artists. Now in its 83rd year, the show has launched countless careers since 1934—from Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Michael Jackson, D’Angelo, Jazmine Sullivan, and Lauryn Hill to recent winners like Matthew Whitaker and Machine Gun Kelly.  Amateur Night is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.

Amateur Night’s 2017 Season runs through November on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the following special editions:

Amateur Night at the Apollo: Opening Night

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

The show has launched countless careers since 1934—from Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Michael Jackson, D’Angelo, Jazmine Sullivan, and Lauryn Hill to recent winners such as Matthew Whitaker, Machine Gun Kelly, and Matthew Hashimoto.

Auditions for Amateur Night

March 18th in New York City at the Apollo (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)

Amateur Night at the Apollo: Jazz Edition

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

In continuation of the year-long celebration of legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald, the Apollo Theater will present a special jazz edition of its signature talent competition.

Amateur Night at the Apollo: Nothin’ But Soul                                                             

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for Amateur Night begin at $21 and are available at the Apollo Theater Box Office: (212) 531-5305, 253 West 125th Street and Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or Tickets are on sale now.

Apollo Music Cafe

Apollo Soundstage

Monthly, Fridays and Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. (doors open for bar and food at 9:00 p.m.)

Hosted by Jodine Dorce with DJ Hard Hittin Harry

The Apollo Music Café presents forward-thinking artists and draws out equally adventurous audiences to experience daring and diverse performances from R&B, hip-hop, soul, jazz, pop, funk, to rock. Presented in the Theater’s intimate Soundstage, the series continues the Apollo’s longstanding commitment to presenting diverse and innovative artistic voices. Since its debut in February 2011, the series has become a staple for a variety of music lovers. The Apollo Music Café 2017 season runs monthly on Fridays and Saturdays from January to June 2017. The new series features a special Apollo Music Café: Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald.

APOLLO  MUSIC CAFÉ: 2017       

Grace Weber and Russell Taylor

Friday, February 3, 2017 at 10 p.m.

Featured on VH1 “”You Oughta Know” series, Russell Taylor is a highly sought after Harlem based soul-singer who has shared the stages with Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, India.Arie, Isaac Hayes and Patti LaBelle. Named New Music Seminar’s #1 Unsigned Artist and listed on NPR’s “One To Watch,” Grace Weber returns to the Apollo after her triumphant 2004 Showtime performance.        

House Unplugged with Dawn Tallman & Friends

Curated by InJoy Enterprises

Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 10 p.m. 

House Unplugged will feature International Dance Music Award winning artist Dawn Tallman performing with a live band along with special guests to create a unique high energy live music experience that audience members will feel deep in their soul.

LaJune and Rahbi         

Friday, March 3, 2017 at 10 p.m.

Inspired by artists as diverse as Prince, Grace Jones, Rick James and Lady Gaga, Rahbi’s electrifying performances has gained the admiration of Eryakh Badu and Janelle Monae. Rapper/singer, LaJune was the first female to be inducted into BET’s “106 & Park” Freestyle Friday Competition.      

Ensemble Mik Nawooj

Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 10 p.m.

Led by classically trained composer/pianist JooWan Kim, Ensemble Mik Nawooj, the 10 piece postmodern Hip-Hop orchestra with MCs/lyricists Do D.A.T. and Sandman, a soprano, winds, strings, funky drums, and piano, injects classical compositional techniques into hip-hop. The Oakland based Hip-Hop Orchestra will preview the music portion of their immersive hip-hop/classical hybrid work, Death Become Life which deconstructs classic Hip-Hop tracks.
Charenee Wade – A Celebration of Ella Fitzgerald

Friday, April 7, 2017 at 10 p.m.

Soulful jazz vocalist, Charenee Wade celebrates Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday with a joyous evening of song. A notable singer, composer and arranger, Wade is known for expert vocal improvisational ability and her seriously swinging groove.   Her classic jazz sound landed her the First Runner-Up in the 2010 Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition which launched her touring career, performing regularly on both local and international stages.

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