Smokey Robinson, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight, and Natalie Cole will celebrate the famed Apollo Theater's 80th anniversary by performing at the Apollo's annual Spring Gala on June 10 at the iconic venue on 125th Street in Harlem. For the second year in a row, Emmy Award-winning and Grammy nominated entertainer Wayne Brady will host the gala which will commemorate eight decades of the theater’s illustrious history.
"Over the last 80 years, the Apollo Theater has been a constant in changing the face of popular music and culture here in Harlem and across the world," stated Jonelle Procope, president and CEO of The Apollo Theater." Some of the world's most legendary artists have not only graced this stage, but were nurtured and developed at the Apollo in the beginning of their careers. Instead of honoring one or a few legends, this year's gala will pay homage to and spotlight the eight decades of music at the Apollo that changed entertainment forever."
Apollo Chairman Richard D. Parsons, who has led the board of directors since 2001, will receive the Leadership Award from Apollo board member Ronald O. Perelman. Parsons, the former chairman of Citicorp and former chair and CEO of Time Warner, was recently named the interim CEO of the Los Angeles Clippers following the NBA's lifetime ban of owner Donald Sterling. He is currently a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners and sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates. Parsons previously served as a member of President Barack Obama's economic advisory team.
The Apollo Corporate Award will be presented to BNY Mellon in recognition of the company's philanthropy and community leadership.
"The Apollo Theater is both a historic landmark and a cultural icon, with an extraordinary legacy of launching and advancing the careers of African-American artists and making their contributions accessible to broader audiences in New York and around the world," said Gerald L. Hassell, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, BNY Mellon. "As a company that grasps the power of diversity to make institutions stronger and neighborhoods richer, we salute the Apollo for its incomparable contributions to New York's cultural tapestry."
In 1983, the Apollo Theater was designated as a New York City and New York state landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Spring Gala raises money for the non-profit Apollo Theater Foundation's performing arts programming, education initiatives, and community programs.
During last year's gala, Chaka Khan was inducted into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, joining previous honorees Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Lionel Richie, Gladys Knight and the Pips. Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. Her tribute included appearances by Labelle, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Holliday, and Deborah Cox.