The Apollo announced today details of its Winter/Spring 2022 season, with an array of free and ticketed programming in-person at Apollo’s historic theater and online on the Apollo’s Digital Stage. Highlights include the long-anticipated return of the Amateur Night at the Apollo competition on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, at 7:30 pm EST; Apollo Master Artist-in-Residence Ta-Nehisi Coates and The Roots’ Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, in conversation; the Lyricist Lounge 30th Anniversary Concert featuring hip-hop trailblazers to be announced; the premiere of The Gathering: A Collective Ring Shout, co-presented by the American Composers Orchestra and the Apollo and co-curated by National Black Theatre; the return of Africa Now! featuring East African jazz vocalist and Grammy nominee Somi; and more.
The non-profit Apollo’s season centers Black artists and voices from the African Diaspora with myriad opportunities for artists and audiences to come back together at the iconic theater.
“As we continue our 88th season, the Apollo remains steadfast in its commitment to serve our community, audiences, and artists. We are thrilled to welcome audiences back to once again uplift and unite one another while celebrating resiliency and artistry in Harlem,” said Apollo President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “I’m incredibly grateful to our donors and sponsors who continue to support the Apollo, ensuring that we remain a beacon of Black creativity.”
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Building on Apollo’s dedication to creating a diverse 21st-century American performing arts canon, Grammy and Emmy nominated multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer Kamasi Washington will serve as Apollo’s second Master Artist-in-Residence.
The three-year residency, which will include in-person and digital events such as performances, curated events, conversations, and more, will further deepen the relationship between the non-profit organization and Washington, who most recently performed on the Apollo stage in February 2019 with his band The Next Step. The concert was filmed and released on Amazon Prime Video in 2020.
The residency provides leading artists of color with a home to create new works, develop and curate programs, support artists of color across disciplines, and also serve as an artistic, educational, and community resource.
Washington follows Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Apollo’s inaugural resident artist, whose Between the World and Me was adapted for the stage and premiered in 2018, with encore performances at the Apollo in 2019, and became an award-winning HBO special in 2020.
“From the return of our hallmark, in-person Amateur Night competitions, to the Africa Now! festival featuring the incredible Somi, the much-anticipated premiere of The Gathering, and so much more, this is a season of celebration at the Apollo as we once again open our doors and continue to engage virtually with our artists and communities near and far,” said Apollo Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. “It is an honor to welcome Kamasi Washington to the Apollo as our Master Artist-in-Residence for the next three years. He continues to be an innovator, weaving together Hip Hop, soul, jazz, and R&B while creating a sound uniquely his own. We look forward to providing him a home for his work and ideas.”
The Apollo’s famed Amateur Night at the Apollo, one of New York’s most popular live entertainment experiences, attracting performers and audiences the world over, returns to Harlem following the theater’s March 2020 closure.
The classic competition is known for its notoriously “tough” audience, enthusiastically deciding who will “Be Good or Be Gone.” Artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Luther Vandross, Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo, Machine Gun Kelly, and H.E.R. have all rubbed the famed Tree of Hope before taking the stage.
This year’s line-up of contestants will compete for an ultimate cash prize of $20,000. Coca-Cola is the lead sponsor of Amateur Night at the Apollo.
The Apollo’s winter/spring season kicks off on Sunday, January 9 at 3:00pm EST with the annual celebration of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Returning in person and presented by the Apollo and WNYC, in collaboration with the March on Washington Film Festival, Uptown Hall: MLK – Activism, Athletics, and the Arts is hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry, host of WNYC’s “The Takeaway.” It will feature panelists including Civil Rights activist and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young; Reverend Al Sharpton; sports journalist and author Bill Rhoden; Color of Change President Rashad Robinson; actress Trazana Beverly; National Black Theatre Executive Artistic Director Jonathan McCrory; WNYC journalist Jami Floyd; WQXR host and author Terrance McKnight; host of WNYC’s “All of It,” Alison Stewart; Kai Wright, host of WNYC’s The United States of Anxiety; and longtime WNYC host Brian Lehrer.
Focusing on the long-standing connection between activism, artistry, and athletics, participants will discuss how the struggle for social justice affected influencers from Nina Simone and Muhammad Ali to John Legend and Colin Kaepernick, and how they in turn affected the struggle for social justice.
Artistic presentations and performances will enhance the timely conversations. Music director Gregory Hopkins will direct The Gathering Quartet (Maria Antoinette Freeman, Soprano; Tanya Tatum, Alto; Ronald Smith, Tenor; Victor Chapman, Baritone) in a preview performance from Joel Thompson’s oratorio Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, a powerful, multi-movement choral work honoring Black men killed by police performed in advance of its full presentation at The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout, co-presented by the Apollo and the American Composers Orchestra and co-curated with National Black Theatre, debuting in May at the Apollo. MLK – Activism, Athletics and the Arts will also feature a video presentation by classical music curator Garrett McQueen on the history of activism by Pan-African musicians, and rappers Javier Gooden and JSWISS will close out the program by delivering a message to the youth and an electrifying tribute to black trailblazers. The event will also be broadcast on the Apollo Digital Stage and WNYC on Monday, January 17, at 11:00am and 7:00pm EST.
Audience-favorites Apollo Comedy Club and Apollo Music Café, which highlight the best independent and emerging artists and comedians, return to Apollo’s Soundstage in January.
Writer and actor Rob Stapleton host the return of Apollo Comedy Club, curated by Bob Sumner on Friday, January 14 at 9:00 pm EST featuring Cool DJ Marv. Apollo Comedy Club will continue Friday, March 4, as part of Africa Now!, and Friday, May 13 at 9:00 pm EST with a line-up of the best up-and-coming talent from the continent. Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and Prince protégé Liv Warfield kicks off the spring season of Apollo Music Café on Saturday, January 15 at 9:00 pm EST.
She was most recently featured on the Prince album “Welcome 2 America.” Warfield will give a rare and intimate performance of her extensive repertoire of original music.
Apollo Music Café will offer a special Africa Now! edition on Saturday, March 5 at 9:00 pm EST, with Congolese dancer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Nkumu Katalay and DJ YB. On Saturday, May 14 at 9:00 pm EST, rising star and New York native Samara Joy takes to the Apollo stage, following in the footsteps of her idols Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan.
Joy, who won the 2019 New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, will be performing works from her self-titled debut album.
The Apollo’s bi-annual Africa Now! festival returns with an array of programming recognizing the best of today’s African contemporary music and celebrating its ongoing impact around the world beginning on Friday, March 4, 2022, and culminating on Saturday, March 19 with East African jazz vocalist Somi and surprise guests.
Somi will be performing music from her latest album Zenzile: The Reimagination of Miriam Makeba, a celebration of the late South African singer-songwriter and civil rights activist Miriam Makeba.
Apollo Film Presents: ImageNation’s Cocktails and Sol Cinema return on Thursday, March 10 at 6:00pm EST. The evening is part of Africa Now! celebration and will feature a special screening of Queen of Glory, which premiered as the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
Written and directed by Nana Mensah (Netflix’s “The Chair,” and “BONDiNG”), the film, which follows a doctoral student at Columbia University who unexpectedly loses her mother, vividly captures the Ghanaian-American experience of being caught between two worlds.
Apollo Master Artist-in-Residence Ta-Nehisi Coates will be joined by multi-talented rapper, singer, and actor Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots on the Apollo stage on Wednesday, March 30 at 7:00 pm EST.
The writer, who works across mediums including writing novels, comics, and films, and the artist, who will have just finished the Off-Broadway premiere of Black No More, in which he stars and composed the music for, will discuss their work, what has inspired them, and the ways in which they are reimagining their artforms for the future.
In celebration of its 30th anniversary, the Apollo welcomes the Lyricist Lounge to the Historic Theater on Saturday, April 16 at 8:00 pm EST.
Featuring artists to be announced, this one-night-only event highlights the Lyricist Lounge, which was initially created as a safe space for Hip Hop artists to hone their skills, evolved to become an integral part of Hip Hop history.
Lyricist Lounge is known for its ability to curate and showcase authentic, high-quality talent, as has been evidenced in its live shows and previous MTV program.
On Saturday, May 7 at 8:00 pm EST, the Apollo will offer The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout. This evening-length work brings the ancestral tradition of the Ring Shout into a contemporary context, taking audiences on a sonic quest rooted in the ritual tradition with a diverse array of contemporary, multi-disciplinary artists.
Anchored by a 70-member orchestra and 60-voice choir composed of both professional and amateur singings from multiple African American churches and choral ensembles in New York, including Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir, Broadway Inspirational Voices, Convent Avenue Baptist Church Choir, and Sing Harlem Choir. The Gathering is co-presented with the American Composers Orchestra and co-curated with National Black Theatre in partnership with Gateways Music Festival and Harlem Chamber Players.
Directed by National Black Theatre’s Executive Artistic Director, Jonathan McCrory and conducted by Chelsea Topton, the program features the New York premieres of Carlos Simon’s Amen! and Seven Last Words of the Unarmed by Joel Thompson, plus Courtney Bryan’s Sanctum.
These works are in conversation with new commissions by Herb Alpert Award-winner Toshi Reagon and Tony Award winner Jason Michael Webb, which were created to honor the present need for a collective space of remembrance.
An array of powerful community engagement activities leads up to The Gathering, with the intent of creating space for hope, healing, and the collective exhale. On Thursday, February 3 at 7:00 pm EST, the Apollo will partner with WQXR and the American Composers Orchestra to present Deep River: Black Currents in Classical Music at The Greene Space.
Dr. Howard Watkins, renowned pianist and Assistant Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, curates a recital delving into the rich repertoire by Black American composers. It will feature internationally acclaimed soprano Karen Slack and baritone Kenneth Overton.
The performance will be followed by a panel discussion about the over 100-year tradition of Blacks as creators, conductors and patrons of classical music.
On Saturday, April 23 at 12:00pm EST, the Apollo, the American Composers Orchestra, and the National Black Theatre explore the historic origins and significance of the Ring Shout in Resistance and Healing: Engaging The Ring Shout.
Following this panel with experts, thought-leaders, and artists, audiences will participate in the storied ritual.
Widely considered a cornerstone of Black culture, the Apollo continues to provide a home for artists. Apollo New Works, the theater’s first major commissioning initiative, which launched in 2020, offers new works this spring. Friday, April 22 through Monday, April 25, the Apollo will present the New Black Fest¸ curated by Keith Josef Adkins, featuring 18 new 10-minute plays shared over three staged readings, with six works per reading.
Commissioned by New Black Fest and the Apollo, the playwrights have created works in response to the prompt, “How did the artists of the Harlem Renaissance respond to the historic events that shaped their time? And how are contemporary creatives dealing with the issues of the present moment in their own work?”
Also on Saturday, April 23, Apollo New Works artist Kamau Ware and Black Gotham Experience present Kuzaliwa, 90-minute walking tours of the community, highlighting the neighborhood’s ever-present ties to the Harlem Renaissance.
A cultural anchor in Harlem and New York City, the Apollo continues its role as a catalyst for social engagement with community and education offerings.
This spring, Apollo Young Producers returns with a virtual panel, In-Service: Young Changemakers on Monday, January 17 at 6:00 pm EST, offering young people a space to share resources, find support, and discuss their experiences.
In honor of MLK’s legacy and the National Day of Service, this year’s event will focus on young people making changes in their communities.
Apollo Live Wire conversations–the popular free series that honors iconic individuals who have had an impact on the Apollo’s history– continue on Tuesday, February 22 at 6:30 pm EST with Live Wire: Black Notes/Femme Futures.
Featuring DJ LiKWUiD and internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and composer Frae-Frae: Daughter of Drexciya, the conversation will contemplate the future of Black life while expanding past and present Black women who have shifted the ways in which people think about, practice, and experience the arts, social sciences, and social justice.
Live Wire: Black Notes/Femme Futures is presented as part of Apollo’s programming in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism Festival. On Tuesday, March 15 at 6:30 pm EST Live Wire: Bridging the Diaspora explores ways the Apollo has played a role in honoring the music of Africa, as well as of the U.S. and the Diaspora.
Curated by ethnomusicologist Fredara Hadley, it will explore some of the legendary African artists and historic performances that have taken place on the Apollo stage, and the ongoing significance and importance of the Apollo’s Africa Now! festival.
From the Archives continues on Tuesday, April 19 at 6:30 pm EST with cultural anthropologist, curator, and dancer, Derrick Leon Washington helping the audience to imagine new ways to think about culture, performance, and the stage as archives.
On Thursday, May 5 at 6:30 pm EST, Live Wire: The Social Justice Playlist will explore the ways in which Black artists have been utilizing their musical abilities to perform a type of protest that brings Black communities together by providing a place to reflect, recharge, and revolutionize towards freedom.
Apollo Career Panels returns to the Digital Stage on Monday, March 28 at 6:00 pm EST with Costume Design: Telling the Story and Creating the Character. Focusing on the important role costume designers play in bringing characters to life, the Apollo will bring together a panel of specialists to discuss the tools they use on the stage and screen. In celebration of Black Music Month in June, the Apollo offers Career Panel: Crossfade on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 pm EST. It will examine the nuances that define beatmakers and music producers.
This career panel will identify different roles within the music industry while sharing tangible lessons on developing a career, identifying a signature sound, and techniques on developing sounds.
On Monday, June 13, the Apollo will hold its annual Spring Benefit, the Apollo’s biggest fundraiser. Additional details to be announced.
**A complete calendar listing of upcoming programming is available on the following page.**
The Apollo Theater
The legendary Apollo Theater-the soul of American culture-plays a vital role in cultivating emerging artists and launching legends. Since its founding, the Apollo has served as a center of innovation and a creative catalyst for Harlem, the city of New York, and the world.
With music at its core, Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more.
This includes the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella; and annual Africa Now! Festival.
The non-profit Apollo Theater is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the Women of the World (WOW) Festival as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations.
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres-including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.
Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy.
For more information about the Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.
Tickets for the Apollo’s Winter/Spring 2022 season are available now for Apollo members at www.ApolloTheater.org and go on sale to the general public on Thursday, December 9 at 12:00pm EST. General tickets to the 2022 season of Amateur Night at the Apollo and The Gathering: A Collective Ring Shout are on sale now.
Tickets to Uptown Hall: MLK – Activism, Athletics, and the Arts are free and available on January 3, 2022.
Tickets for Apollo Young Producers, Live Wire, Career Panels, and Apollo Education events are free with RSVP.
The health and safety of our audiences, artists, and staff is the Apollo’s top priority. Please note that all attendees must present a government-issued picture ID prior to entry and show a completed vaccination cord authorized by the FDA or WHO against COVID-19 (dated at least 14 days before the show).
Proof of vaccination can be displayed on smartphones.
Proof of vaccination may also include a CDC Vaccination Card (or photo), NYC Vaccination Record, or an official immunization record from outside New York City or the United States.
Photo ID for children under 12 will not be required if they are accompanied by parents/guardians with a government-issued photo ID.
All attendees are required to wear masks inside the theater, except while actively eating or drinking. For a complete list of the Apollo’s COVID-19 safety protocols, please visit www.ApolloTheater.org.
The Apollo’s 2022-23 season is made possible by leadership support from Coca-Cola, Accenture, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Citi, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Jerome L. Greene Arts Access Fund in the New York Community Trust, HBO, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Public support for the Apollo Theater is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Coca-Cola is the lead sponsor of Amateur Night at the Apollo.
The inaugural Master Artist Residency is supported by the Ford Foundation. The Master Artist Residency program is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Leadership support for the Apollo New Works initiative is provided by the Ford Foundation. The New Black Fest is funded by the HBO Fund for Theater, The Black Seed and is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Commissioning support for Soul Science Lab is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Leadership support for Somi and Friends: The Reimagination of Mariam Makeba is provided by the HBO Fund for Theater. Additional support is provided by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Gathering: A Collective Sonic Ring Shout is generously supported by Art for Justice and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Linda and Stuart Nelson, Anonymous, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and The New York Community Trust.
Apollo Community Programs are supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with New York City Council Member Mark Levine.
Leadership support for the Apollo Education Programs is provided by BNY Mellon, Fund II, the Hearst Foundations, the Jerome L. Greene Arts Access Fund in the New York Community Trust, The Pinkerton Foundation, and public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with New York Council Members Ben Kallos and Bill Perkins.
Apollo Young Producers is a part of the Apollo’s Pathway to Careers in the Arts which is generously supported by Steve and Connie Ballmer, Disney, Fund II, the Hearst Foundations, The Neuberger Berman Foundation, the Ellis L. Phillips Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, and the Verizon Foundation.
Photo credit: 1-3) Apollo Theaters.