The Apollo Goes Digital for the First Time in History
Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The Apollo Goes Digital for the First Time in History

In light of social distancing, The Apollo Theater is staying ahead of the curve and going digital for the first time in its 86-year history. The Harlem theater closed its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that’s not stopping the show from going on. The iconic Amateur Night segment will conduct remote auditions and as an alternative, the theater asked participants to submit videos online.

“Digital technology has enabled us to stay more connected than ever before, and during these uncertain times it is incredibly vital for the Apollo Theater to continue to engage with artists and audiences around the world,” Kamilah Forbes, Apollo Theater Executive Producer, said in a statement.

The Apollo is inviting singers, dancers, comedians, rappers, spoken-word artists, musicians, and variety acts to present five-minute-long video submissions for their 2020-2021 season.

The New York Times reported that producer Marion Caffey and coordinator Kathy Jordan Sharpton along with a panel of five veteran performers will view and evaluate the videos. Successful hopefuls will then compete for the grand prize of $20,000. Contestants must be an unsigned talent to qualify for the competition.

The Apollo Theater started Amateur Night in 1934, making it one of the longest-running performance traditions in New York City. Acts like Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill, The Jackson 5 and thousands more have all graced The Apollo stage to compete in the event. The legendary event has also helped to launch the career of singers like H.E.R., Jimi Hendrix, and Gladys Knight.

Despite not being able to hold in-person auditions, the theater is hopeful that this alternative will still allow them to find the talent they’re looking for.

“We’re always looking for the next star,” Forbes said. “I think the opportunity for digital really allows us to always keep our eyes open for talent around the country and, quite frankly, around the world.”

If you think you’re the next star, visit apollotheater.org.

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