Performing Arts: Music
June 11, 2013
Extended family -- that's what the Apollo Theater telegraphs. An institution that embraces stars and neighborhood stalwarts, the Apollo gussied up for a fine gala honoring the great Chaka Khan. As guests streamed into the theater, attractive servers held trays of pop bottle size Moët-- while others passed out clear packets of fresh cheese sticks, and jalapeño biscuits.

All of this set the mood of glamour encased in down-home comfort. This year’s inductee into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame, vocalist and composer, Chaka Kahn sat animated in a box over stage right as the affable host Wayne Brady kept the good cheer and stars rotating. A parade of female belters sang tributes to Chaka Kahn. The woman who inspired this year’s Tony Award winner Billy Porter, the gutsy-voiced Jennifer Holiday, jump-started the festivities. Energy kept building when the seasoned Patti LaBelle fired up the house with her warm gospel voice, followed by the energetically soulful X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke.

Finally, it all came together on a high note when Mary J. Blige appeared and claimed Ms. Khan as a major inspiration. Erykah Badu presented the award to Ms. Khan, who due to doctor’s orders, could not sing but could expressed unending appreciation.

Other well deserved awardees included Time Warner (Corporate Award), and Lisa Price founder of Carol's Daughter (Percy E. Sutton Civic Leadership Award).

Board members spoke, praising Apollo's contributions to the community and to the thousands of children through sustained excellence in programming under the leadership of Miikki Shepard. Truly a cultural lynchpin of Harlem, speakers accurately described the Apollo as the cultural heartbeat of America.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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