Duke Ellington performed regularly here, and Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday both launched their careers at the venue’s amateur night. You can say that the Apollo Theater was the ‘Motown’ before Motown. Today, the theater stands as an artifact on the bustling 125th street.
Sarah Vaughan plays the piano as Duke Ellington and Billy Eckstine look on, circa 1950. The Newark, NJ-born Ms. Vaughan studied piano as a child and went on to win first prize at the Apollo Theater’s famous Amateur Night competition. Billy Eckstine was in the audience that night and before long, Ms. Vaughan would sing with Mr. Eckstine in his band. Her recording of “The Duke Ellington Songbook, Vol. 1 and 2,” is still unmatched for its beauty and brilliance. Photo by Gilles Pet
The Apollo Theater is one of Harlem and America's most iconic cultural institutions. It was one of the first theaters in New York and the country to have full integrated audiences and employ African Americans/Latinos both onstage and backstage, and plays a central role in the development of American music. http://www.apollotheater.org/about/history. A #PreserveNY candidate.