Apollo Theater on 125th Street in Harlem is more than just a theater. It’s the birthplace and home of countless great African-American performers: James “Mister Apollo” Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Prince, Richard Pryor — the list goes on and on. It was in this safe haven that Billie Holiday dared to sing “Strange Fruit” live, and where African-American culture could be freely celebrated. Join us for the film screening of ‘The Apollo’ including a conversation with Connecting the Dots Hip Hop group and Afrogrooves on the importance of music for social change.
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Background the Apollo
Dazzling documentary about the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, with archive footage of numerous artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill and twelve-year-old Stevie Wonder, revealing the theater’s paramount importance for the careers of black artists and for the black community in New York.
Artists often felt weak at the knees before the curtain fell, knowing they would be booed by the audience if their act failed to impress. But a successful performance could be the starting point of a bright career. And more importantly, the Apollo Theater offered a stage for black voices in a time of segregation.
The documentary is full of delightful recordings of now famous singers and dancers as they took their first steps on the stage, intertwined with lively anecdotes of artists, former employees and visitors that have witnessed the theater’s transformation over the years. Director Roger Ross Williams offers a unique perspective on the origins and development of African American music in all its facets.
Credits & info
Duration : 102 minutes
Language : English no subtitles
Director : Roger Ross Williams
Production : Lisa Cortes, Jeanne Elfant Festa, Cassidy Hartmann
Executive producer : Nigel Sinclair, Dan Cogan, Nicholas Farrell, Julie Goldman
Cinematography : Michael Dwyer
Editing : Jean Tsien, John Fisher
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