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Star Studded Gala Puts $2.2 Million in Apollo’s Coffers: Gladys Knight, Spike Lee, D-Nice, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Wyclef Jean & More in the House | PICs

The Apollo Theater
The legendary Apollo Theater

*The Apollo Theater announced today that it raised an impressive $2.2 million at its highly anticipated Spring Gala last week. The star-studded event, themed “The Next Movement,” brought together renowned figures from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and philanthropy. Spike Lee, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Gladys Knight, MC Lyte, Stout, Wyclef Jean, ABC’s Dancing with the Star’s musical director Ray Chew, Bevy Smith, Faith Evans, Jozzy, Bryant Gumbel,  Leon, Deborah Cox, and Chante Moore were among those who in attendance. Popular DJ D-Nice rocked the house at the after-party. Iheart radio personality and EURweb’s Jazmyn ‘Jaz’ Summers was there to bring you the tea.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
 

Sean “Diddy” Combs, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,  legendary NBA player and six-time MVP, and the theater’s President and CEO, Jonelle Procope,  were honored. Procope, who is stepping down this year, reflected on her tenure telling EURweb, “It is bittersweet but I’m so proud to have been at the helm of an amazing team and overjoyed with all we have accomplished over these last 20 years. We have created a space that uplifts and supports Black artistry in its many forms, and will continue to champion the next generation of artists, community leaders, and changemakers,” she said.

Jazmyn Summers and Kareem Abdul Jabbar at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Kareem Abdul Jabbar at the Apollo (Instagram)

Spike Lee reflected on the importance of  Impact Award recipient Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “Many don’t realize what it takes to be a great baller. It takes stamina and focus – being a great communicator – and motivator – being educated about your opponent and thinking five steps ahead, ” he shared with Jaz.

Jazmyn Summers and Spike Lee at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Spike Lee at the Apollo (Instagram)

“Perhaps most importantly, elevating your teammates. Because a great leader knows that no win is won alone. Great players go hard in the paint every single day and it shows. Now, apply these qualities to your whole life, and you can have a real impact. That  is what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has done.”

Jazmyn Summers and Wyclef Jean at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Wyclef Jean at the Apollo (Instagram)

Wyclef Jean shared his thoughts with EURweb, “The importance of the Apollo to me is just preservation of culture. The idea of we can’t forget how we started and how important it is that when we go into the next generation  they fully understand what the Apollo is”

He also took a moment to talk about his homeland Haiti.  Wyclef tried to run for president back in 2010 but was ruled ineligible for not living there for 5 years.

“In order to hold Haiti accountable, we have to hold the United States accountable. We have to hold our partners, France, and Canada accountable. In order for Haiti to change, we all have to look at the historical background of what happened and for us to say change it. Why don’t y’all give Haiti zero debt? So if y’all wanted to start again, start off by giving the country zero debt. Make it zero debt free, and let them start from there to rebuild.”

Former President of Haiti Jean-Bertrand Aristide demanded that France pay Haiti over 21 billion U.S. dollars, what he said was the equivalent in today’s money of the 90 million gold francs Haiti was forced to pay Paris after winning its freedom from France.

Actor and singer Leon said his favorite memory was when his band performed back in the ’80s:

Jazmyn Summers and Leon at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Leon at the Apollo (Instagram)

“The Apollo Theater is everything to me, being an entertainer here in New York City, being Black, the Apollo’s like the Mecca.  I have so many great memories of the Apollo.  It was electrifying, our breakthrough when we went on stage here. This is an important part of our history, it’s part of our culture.”

Singer and Broadway star Deborah Cox shared her thoughts, “This stage brings the legends and the new and up and coming. It brings people of all different styles of music and it’s an opportunity to really grace the stage of the icons.  I don’t know any other venue worldwide that has that same claim.”

Cox, who turned up at the after party, reflected on her upcoming role in the Broadway musical about famed entertainer Josephine Baker who fled to Paris in the 1920s to escape American racism.

“She was another trailblazer, another woman who impacted so many different worlds of fashion and music. In her day she was just doing things that no Black woman was doing at the time. So it felt really good to stretch as an artist, to portray her. And I think she’s one of those figures that we all should know, that we all can learn a bit from about being fearless. That’s what it takes when you need to make a mark in the world. It takes that kind of fearlessness.”

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Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, The Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at The Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Embed from Getty Images
 

The Apollo Theater, an iconic institution synonymous with African American artistry and culture, has been a hub for creativity and activism for over 89 years since it was a white burlesque theater back in 1914.  No Black folks were allowed back then. Now, with its upcoming expansion and renovation project, including the introduction of The Apollo’s Victoria Theaters and the restoration of its Historic Theater, the Apollo is poised to be one of the premiere entertainment destinations in the world highlighting and supporting Black culture.

Jazmyn Summers and MC Lyte at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and MC Lyte at the Apollo (Instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Bevy Smith at the Apollo (instagram)
Jazmyn Summers and Bevy Smith at the Apollo (Instagram)

Article and interviews by Jazmyn Summers. Please don’t forget to subscribe to Jazmyn Summers’ youtube.  Follow her @jaztalk1 on Instagram and Facebook. She is no longer using Twitter due to the increased racism on the site which she believes is a result of Elon Musk’s policies.

OTHER NEWS ON EURWEB: Latto Talks BBL Surgery As She Covers Cosmopolitan – Twitter Roasts Jonathan Majors and Meagan Good’s Situationship + More | PicsVideos

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