Cruz Angel Wins Apollo’s Amateur Night, $20K Prize, And 2024 Title

June 28, 2024

The winner of America’s longest-running talent show Amateur Night at The Apollo in Harlem, NY, Cruz Angel, was crowned at the show’s grand finale winner.

He was crowned on June 26, 2024, for his performance of “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” by Hillsong. From a global pool of vocalists, rappers, dancers, instrumentalists, comedians, spoken-word artists, and other performers, Angel was awarded the highly coveted Amateur Night Grand Prize—which has jump-started the careers of artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, H.E.R., Machine Gun Kelly and the Jackson 5—as well as $20,000. Nine-year-old singer Sogna Bella Santana won The Apollo audience over with her rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” earning the title of “Child Star of Tomorrow” and a $5,000 prize. 

Originally from Puerto Rico and currently based in Lindenhurst, New York, singer Cruz Angel was at a loss for words following his victory. “It’s something I will never forget,” Angel said of the night’s outcome. “I cannot believe what just happened.” Following his performance, Cruz spoke about the path leading to this moment, including his experience being unhoused, sleeping in the New York City subway after hours of busking. He then heard about Amateur Night and decided to audition. When asked what comes next, he replied, “Whatever God has in store for me.”

“I’m just really thankful. It’s a blessing,” said Child Star of Tomorrow Sogna Bella Santana, who came to The Apollo from Seaford, New York. “When I first came here, I lost, but my mom said, ‘Keep trying, you could do this.’”

“Fundamental to the mission of The Apollo is our support of artists, from those just starting out to well-established performers, and Amateur Night has long been a cornerstone of that support, catalyzing countless artists’ careers,” said Michelle Ebanks, President and CEO of The Apollo in Harlem, NY. “No matter your background, you can step foot on The Apollo’s stages and become part of a 90-year legacy that has produced some of the most renowned artists in recent memory. Last night, Cruz Angel and Sogna Bella Santana exemplified what makes The Apollo stage so great.”

The Apollo’s original, large-scale talent competition is produced by Marion J. Caffey, and is hosted by comedian Capone (NY Kings of Comedy, Def Comedy Jam) with perennial favorites including C.P. Lacey in the role of the “Executioner” (in charge of ushering off eliminated contestants); Greginald Spencer, the “Set It Off Man”; and Amateur Night’s longstanding famous house band led by music director, Michael Mitchell (MJ The Musical), featuring DaiQuan Davis on drums, Reggie Young on bass, and Matt Oestreicher on guitar and keyboard.

Since its inception in 1934, The Apollo’s signature Amateur Night has attracted audiences from all corners of the globe and given a platform to what are now some of the biggest names in entertainment, including D’Angelo, Luther Vandross, Lauryn Hill, and H.E.R. Amateur Night has long been revered by artists as a transformative experience where up-and-coming talent feel the power of the legendary performers who have come before them, and where audience responses can help make or break a career.


The next season of Amateur Night kicks off August 21, 2024, continuing weekly on Wednesdays at 7:30 pm EDT. Audiences are invited to visit www.apollotheater.org/amateur-night to join the party.

The Apollo

The legendary Apollo—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. In 2024, The Apollo opened The Apollo Stages at the Victoria Theater, marking the first ever expansion and renovation of The Apollo in its 90-year history. For more information about The Apollo, visit www.ApolloTheater.org.

With music at its core, The Apollo’s programming extends to dance, theater, spoken word, and more. This includes the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ 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 Apollo100The Apollo Celebrates Ella; and the annual Africa Now! Festival. The non-profit Apollo is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals, large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend The 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, Jazmine Sullivan, 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.


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