May 17, 1986 |
It's no big trick to convince anyone the Apollo Theater is to 20th-century American popular music what the MGM studio was to the 20th-century American movie musical. The trick, over the past 10 years, has been to make the Apollo into a living, breathing enterprise that can turn enough of a profit to stay open. Back in the '30s, '40s and '50s it was easy enough. You hired a comedian, a tap dancer and a couple of musicians, paid them almost nothing, had them do seven shows a day, and didn't spend a lot on stuff like sound systems and dressing rooms.
April 1, 2016 |
NEW YORK - The joint is jumping, but not necessarily in ways that originally made Ella Fitzgerald famous decades ago. Harlem's Apollo Theater remains a hub of African American musical culture - but the venue also strenuously adapts itself. There's digital foosball one week, with a giant playing table on the main floor - and then Opera Philadelphia arrives this Friday and Sunday for Charlie Parker's Yardbird , the Apollo's first foray into opera. "Experimentation and emerging artists are part of our DNA," says Mikki Shepard, executive producer.
April 20, 1995 |
Number 8 Tower Lane, a white ranch with yellow shutters, sports the mowed- grass, trimmed-shrubbery and car-in-driveway look it shares with most of its Willingboro neighbors. But the standard suburban appearance of the exterior quickly gives way when the clash of cymbals and the clap of drums beat from within. Inside, six musicians, age 10 to 17, jam away in their makeshift studio. A couch, bureau and piano have been pushed to the side of the dimly lit living room. The red carpeting has become the dance floor, the walls, a showcase for memorabilia, and the dining room, a storage place for props.
October 28, 2002 |
Last night, in the Philadelphia Orchestra's grand, cello-shaped performance hall, a chamber of vaulted ceilings and rich woods designed to produce acoustical excellence, a belly-dancing grandmother, a baton twirler, and two stand-up comics - plus a cadre of amateur singers and dancers - vied for a shot at stardom. Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater brought its amateur-night show to the Kimmel Center, offering the winner a guaranteed appearance on national television and a chance to appear on the same stage in New York that launched the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Stevie Wonder.
April 14, 1997 |
Fourteen-year-old Joshua Ray stood poised with his saxophone. He took the stance of a seasoned performer. After all, back home in Lionville, he had played before church groups and with two school bands. Wednesday night was a bit different, though. Ray was on stage in Harlem at the celebrated Apollo Theater, taking part in one of its amateur nights. On such nights, those who do not capture the audience's favor in a matter of seconds are doomed to meet "The Executioner," a sort of human hook who comes to sweep them away in a whirl of lights and the sounds of a fire drill.
April 25, 1988 |
Ella Fitzgerald, celebrating her 70th birthday today, is in semi- retirement. But there is a treasury of her work on record, starting with the happy sound of 1938's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," to her scat singing of "How High the Moon" and the marvelous balladeering on her tributes to Cole Porter, Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen. Through midnight, WRTI (FM/90) will play Fitzgerald's records to honor the performer who often is called "The First Lady of Jazz. " Born in Virginia, she came to New York in 1935 for an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater.
October 24, 2011
Who: Standout youngster on "Majors & Minors," an adorable, heart-swelling, no-elimination show featuring 12 amazing "minors," ages 10 and up, and their "major" celebrity mentors. Airs 7 p.m. Sundays on The Hub. Age: 14 From: Originally South Philly, now East Falls School: Meredith Elementary Memorable show moment: The first time he met Brandy, Michael performed a song he wrote - and reduced the R&B vet to happy tears. Back in town: Since the show wrapped, Michael's been a regular eighth-grader, taking the bus to school and singing in the adult and praise choirs at Greater St. Matthew Baptist Church.
September 12, 2010
Carlton "King" Coleman, 78, a pioneer in American rhythm and blues, died Saturday from heart failure at a Miami hospice. Mr. Coleman was known for providing the lead vocals on the 1959 hit "(Do The) Mashed Potatoes," recorded with James Brown's band. According to a 2003 Miami New Times article, Brown had planned to do the vocals himself, but a dispute with his record label made that impossible. To avoid any lawsuits from Brown's label, a Miami producer had Mr. Coleman sing on the mostly instrumental track, while the group credited with the song was "Nat Kendrick and the Swans," named for Brown's drummer.
February 18, 1992 |
To Jocko Henderson, the chime of a doorbell often turned out to be the sound of a hit record. At any given moment, a vocalist or a record promoter would drop by his Germantown home to ask the powerful disc jockey to give a listen to a freshly cut record or a just-penned tune. But early one day in 1957, some guy was pushing his luck with the accommodating radio personality. "The doorbell was ringing at 4 o'clock in the morning and I said to myself, what the hell is this?"
March 23, 2008 |
Hortense Allen Jordan, 88, a dancer, choreographer, producer and costume designer in East Coast clubs and theaters for more than five decades, died March 15 of heart failure at Golden Living in Germantown. She was a longtime resident of North Philadelphia. LaVaughn Robinson, Philadelphia's master tap dancer, who died in January, often spoke of being transfixed by Mrs. Jordan when the curtains opened at the Earl Theatre in the late 1950s. She was dancing atop a drum. "She looked like a giant," he said.