Harlem World Magazine celebrates Black Music Month with Mary Flowers, who has worked at the World Famous Apollo Theater since the mid- 1980’s. She has met some of the greatest artists of all time, from Al Green, BB King, Jay-Z to Biggie Smalls, Chaka Khan and more. She’s hardworking, loves what she do and she’s also my lovely aunt, Ms. Mary Flowers.
Harlem World Magazine: Where did you grow up in Harlem?
Mary Flowers: East Harlem Park Avenue in 115th Street born and raise there.
HW: How did you first start working at The Apollo?
MF: I worked for Percy Sutton at his radio station for a consultant company that was a subsidiary under Inner City Broadcasting Inc. I was the Controller for Inner City Management Co.
HW: Tell us what you do at The Apollo?
MF: I’m an independent promoter Mary Flowers Entertainment ATL, Inc.; as such I bring concerts to the Apollo Theater.
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HW: How long have you been working with The Apollo?
MF: I worked for the Apollo Theater from 1986 to 1995 as a Controller; then I became Director of Concert Sales in 1988. In 1995 I became an independent Promoter.
HW: What is one of the best moments you had working with the Apollo?
MF: At a Temptation concert I did in 1991; they stay on the stage to long and I had to get them off. I did one of their fancy footsteps across the stage to let them know their performance was over. It was until later that someone told me what I did.
HW: What famous artists have you met at The Apollo?
MF: Jay-Z, B.B. King, Gladys Knight, Nancy Wilson, Notorious B.I.G., Bill Cosby, Dizzy Gillespie, the Mighty Sparrow, Al Green, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jerry Butler, Mary J. Blige, Tito Puente. Hip Hop to Blues, Jazz, Gospel, Latin Legends, R&B young and old. I had all of them over the 26 years I did concerts and I’m still doing them.
HW: When is your next show your organizing (summer and 2013)?
MF: I’m working on a Hip Hop concert for August, 2012 and for October or November, 2012.
HW: What are some of your best experiences working at The Apollo?
MF: Seeing the audience please with the concert they have just seem, since they paid good money for their tickets.
HW: What was your worst experience at the Apollo?
MF: That would be the June 30, 1995. The concert was The Whispers and Phyllis Hyman. Two sold out shows and Phyllis Hyman committed suicide before she was to come to sound check.
HW: Do you keep in touch with any of the artists you’ve met at The Apollo?
MF: Yes I do some time with the artist directly or their management. Just this week Millie Jackson called me.
HW: What are the ups and downs of the entertainment business?
MF: The Entertainment business has change so much. In the 80’s and 90’s Record Companies put time into developing an artist for longevity. Today artist are just one hit wonders with very little staying power. Record companies today only want to recoup their investments they put into making the CD. If someone jumps off like Justin Bieber then the record companies win.
HW: What music do you listen to?
MF: Mainly R&B new music and oldies, I also love Gospel music.
HW: If you were the President of Harlem what would you do to make Harlem better in the 21st Century?
MF: Build new municipal parking lot so parking wouldn’t be a problem. People can shop and go to dine at all the new restaurants in Harlem and keep Harlem streets cleaner.
HW: Any advice for people who want to be in the entertainment business and do what you do?
MF: Intern at any record label, concert hall, entertainment lawyer or any other company related to the entertainment industry.
HW: Thanks you.
By Chenayia Jones