We’ve always wanted to visit the Apollo Theater in Harlem, responsible for the emergence of jazz in NYC back in the day. Tonight was the perfect night for it. We attended WOW– Women of the World– being celebrated by 3 amazing singers. Other events this weekend were The Moth readings, teen empowerment sessions, and other activist events celebrating women. Gabby Douglas will be participating in a session for girls on Sunday.
The 1914 building was closed and reopened several times over the years. After renovations in the 1990’s, the decor harkens back to the 40’s when Sarah Vaughan sang there. Tonight the emcee reminded us that this is also where James Brown said, “Say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud!” An important message for us to remember in this demoralizing era of Trump.
The Apollo was also instrumental in the careers of Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald. Unlike the Tribute to Ella at JALC last weekend, we saw many young people– of all backgrounds– at this event; and the audience excitedly participating in the music and acknowledging the impact of Abbey Lincoln’s spirited defiance.
While we hadn’t heard of Abbey Lincoln before, we learned a great deal about her life and mission as songwriter, civil rights activist, and feminist at heart. Her songs were new to us and amazing.
Esperanza Spaulding has been one of our favorite singers for years, as well as Dee Dee Bridgewater. We have seen them both at Tanglewood and Jazz at Lincoln Center. But Dianne Reeves we always seem to miss, and she was our favorite at this event. Her voice is deep and resonant, and her passion palpable.