The Apollo Theater announced on June 6th the complete lineup for its sixth Annual Spring Gala Benefit Concert honoring cultural icon Stevie Wonder, who will be inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame. The Benefit supports the preservation of the non-profit Theater’s unparalleled legacy, its current initiatives for emerging artists, and community and educational programs in New York City and beyond.
Wyclef Jean, Yolanda Adams, Melanie Fiona, Raphael Saadiq, Paul Schaffer, and Chick Corea, as well as other surprise guests, will perform during this special evening dedicated to Mr. Wonder’s legacy as an artist and philanthropist. The program will be hosted by celebrated comedian and former host of Showtime at the Apollo, Sinbad.
“I am proud to be hosting this outstanding evening honoring two ‘Wonders of the World’: the great Stevie Wonder and the legendary Apollo Theater,” said Sinbad. “In many ways, hosting this event is like going full circle in my career. There isn’t a person in my time up to now that didn’t want to be Stevie Wonder. Getting to meet and hang with Stevie over the years-as well as hosting Showtime at the Apollo for two years-were milestones in my life.”
Stevie Wonder joins other iconic performers in the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame-musicians, artists, and entertainers whose path to fame included the Apollo-including Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. Each Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductee is honored with a plaque on the Apollo Walk of Fame, installed under the Theater’s iconic marquee on 125th Street in Harlem.
Additionally, The Apollo will present cosmetics giant Revlon with its Corporate Award, accepted by Chairman, Ronald O. Perelman, in recognition of Revlon’s support of the Apollo. Philanthropist and arts supporter Reginald Van Lee will receive The Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award, named in honor of one of New York City’s legendary leaders and a champion of Harlem and its cultural institutions.
Produced by Ron Weisner for Ron Weisner Entertainment with events management services provided by JKS Events, the benefit concert will be under the musical direction of Ray Chew, whose credits include Musical Director for American Idol, NBC’s The Singing Bee, Showtime at the Apollo as well as the Apollo’s weekly Amateur Night show. Following the performance, the event will conclude with the Apollo Supper Club-a stylish lounge atmosphere created by David Monn featuring spectacular gourmet creations prepared by Great Performances. The world renowned DJ D-Nice will provide music for late-night dancing.
About Stevie Wonder
Celebrated American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist Stevie Wonder has had a long association with the Apollo Theater, appearing for the first time in 1962 when he was 12 years old. At that time, he was called “Little Stevie Wonder,” and was already touring as a professional act (and was the only “child act”) as part of Berry Gordy’s “Motown Revue,” a road show featuring top acts from the Motown Label. Stevie played a major role in the show since he could sing, play harmonica, organ, congas and drums, which led to him being called a “wonder child.” Other notable Apollo appearances include the “Save the Apollo Concert” in the 1980s and sold out solo concerts in 2005.
The Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award is named for Percy E. Sutton, a distinguished community leader, entrepreneur, and long-time advocate for Harlem, and is a testament to his longstanding relationship and devotion to the Apollo and the City of New York. Mr. Sutton was Manhattan borough president for three terms, and at the time, was New York State’s highest ranking African-American elected official. After retiring from politics, he built a media empire, founding the Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in 1971, which became the second largest black owned radio broadcasting company in the United States. In 1981, Mr. Sutton purchased the world famous Apollo Theater and made pivotal contributions toward the efforts to revitalize and restore the Apollo.
Percy E. Sutton graduated from Prairie View A&M University, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute. After serving as an intelligence officer in World War II with the Tuskegee Airmen, he earned a law degree from Brooklyn College and became one of America’s best-known lawyers, fighting for civil rights and representing many African-American activists, including Malcolm X. Mr. Sutton has received many honors, including the renaming of the 125th Street Manhattanville Post Office and Fifth Avenue from 124th to 142nd Street in his name.
About the Apollo Theater
The Apollo Theater is one of Harlem’s, New York City’s, and America’s most iconic and enduring cultural institutions. The Apollo was one of the first theaters in New York, and the country, to fully integrate, welcoming traditionally African-American, Hispanic, and local immigrant populations in the audience, as well as headlining uniquely talented entertainers who found it difficult to gain entrance to other venues of similar size and resources.
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Apollo’s annual season is made possible by lead support from The Coca-Cola Company, the Edward and Leslye Phillips Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Reggie Van Lee, The Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bloomberg, and the Neuberger Berman Foundation. Lead annual support is also provided by public funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council; with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; New York State funding from Senator Bill Perkins, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright, and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and the New York State Council for the Arts. Visit www.apollotheater.org to learn more.
Apollo Theater – 253 West 125th Street, New York, NY10027
Tickets for the 2011 Spring Gala and after-party are on sale now. To purchase benefit tickets to the event or to make a donation to the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., email [email protected] or call 212-380-8946.