Last evening, the Apollo Theater celebrated its 11th Annual Spring Gala raising $1.7M for its year-round artistic and community programming initiatives. The concert portion of the evening was hosted by LL COOL J, and opened with the dynamic dancing duo Laurent & Larry Bourgeois of Les Twins. The concert also featured performances by legendary R&B group, The O’Jays including rousing version of Love Train, The Backstabbers, For the Love of Money and more. Rising star vocalist, Leon Bridges brought the crowd to its feet with a performance of Mustang Sally and vocalist Andra Day performed her hit song City Burns, followed by a touching performance of Unforgettable in tribute to legendary songstress Natalie Cole. Host LL COOL J also joined DJ D-Nice for a tribute to Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest – one of several iconic artists lost in 2016.
The concert portion ended with a powerful Prince tribute which included legendary guitarist Vernon Reid and Cheryl Pepsii Riley, who sang an emotional version of Purple Rain.
Each year at the Spring Gala, the Apollo also recognizes a corporation for its outstanding philanthropy and community leadership. Last evening VIACOM Executive Chairman, President and CEO, Philippe Dauman accepted the Corporate Award in recognition of his company’s community leadership. Apollo Board Vice-Chairman, Charles Phillips presented the award.
The night culminated with a much buzzed about after party held in a stylish tent created by celebrity event planner and Apollo board member Bronson van Wyck. The after party featured a special Let’s Go Crazy Dance Tribute with DJ D-Nice spinning a dedicated set to the sounds of Prince’s diverse and extensive catalogue.
In a very special addition to the 2016 gala, the celebratory evening began with an afternoon ceremony to induct legendary recording artist Prince into the Apollo Walk of Fame. The induction ceremony took place just under the Apollo marquee and included performances and appearances by legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker, members of Prince’s renowned band The New Power Generation, Prince’s protégé and singer/musician Andy Allo, and R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan who sang her hit song Do Me Baby,which was written by PRINCE.
Prince joins previous Apollo Walk of Fame inductees—all legendary musicians, artists, and entertainers whose paths to fame included the Apollo, including: Chaka Khan, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard and Ella Fitzgerald. Inductees are honored with a plaque on the Apollo Walk of Fame, installed under the Theater’s iconic marquee on 125th Street.
Apollo Spring Gala Co-Chairs included: Anna Chapman and Ronald O. Perelman, James L. Dolan, Tom Dooley, Sonia and Paul Jones, Debra L. Lee, Carolyn and Mark Mason, Laura and Richard D. Parsons and Karen and Charles Phillips
Apollo Spring Gala Vice Chairs included: Frederick G. Loder, Racquel Oden, Dori Silverman, Christine Taylor and Stephen Volk
Apollo Spring Gala Committee members included: American Express, BNY Mellon, Jim Carter, Citi, Alberto Cribiore, Discovery Communications, Disney, Carol Sutton Lewis and William M. Lewis, Jr., National Basketball Players Association, New York Life, Tawana Tibbs and Bruce Gordon, Time Warner Inc., Bronson van Wyck and Janice Savin Williams and Christopher J. Williams
For more information, visit www.apollotheater.org.
Photo credit: Shahar Azran