Apollo Theater Presents "Africa Now"
Simphiwe Dana-Afro-futurist jazz at its best. Close your eyes; you might think Erykah Badu has collaborated with Miriam Makeba.
The Apollo Theater, in collaboration with World Music Institute, presents Africa Now a weekend festival spotlighting today’s African music scene.
The weekend will feature a powerful lineup of artists who have drawn upon their roots for inspiration – and transplanted them onto the global music landscape. This festival will be anchored by a blow-out concert on the Apollo stage featuring: Nneka, Nigerian-German hip-hop/soul songstress; Blitz the Ambassador, revolutionary Ghanian hip-hop star; FreshlyGround, the Cape Town-based, multi-racial septet; and Lokua Kanza, internationally renowned singer. Africa Now marks the legendary Theater’s first time presenting a festival.
Apollo’s Africa Now - Mainstage
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 8 p.m.
Apollo Main Stage concert featuring: Blitz the Ambassador, a Ghanian-born rapper who, with his brass-heavy Embassy Ensemble, unites worlds of hip-hop, Afrobeat, highlife, and soukous; Nneka, the Nigerian-German hip-hop/soul songstress who draws on reggae, blues, folk, and rap in her anthems of protest and struggle; the Cape Town-based, multiracial pop sensation Freshlyground; and Congolese troubadour Lokua Kanza, whose haunting voice and folk-like songs have made him one of the most beloved African stars of the last 20 years. Hear how these artists have drawn upon their roots for inspiration and transplanted them into the global music landscape.
Artist Conversation: Africa Now - Soundstage
Friday, March 15, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
A meet-the-artists panel discussion with participating Africa Now artists focused on how their cultural identities inform their unique brand of music and how, in turn, that music fosters global exchange and transformation. The discussion will be moderated by WBAI’s Esther Armah. Reservations required. For more information, visit apollotheater.org
Apollo Music Café: Africa Now
Friday, March 15, 2013, 10 p.m.
The Music Café series celebrates Africa Now with two dynamic South African acts, The Soil and Simphiwe Dana. The Soil, a four-member a cappella singing group whose music can best be described as “Kasi Soul,” embodies the next generation of South African choral singing.
Bringing soulful new anthems from the townships in lush four-part harmonies punctuated with percussive beat boxing, the group members strives to fuse their voices to deliver melodic and harmonious messages that are aimed at uplifting and healing souls all around the world.
Simphiwe Dana - Afro-futurist jazz at its best. Close your eyes; you might think Erykah Badu has collaborated with Miriam Makeba. Familiar yet cutting edge, Simphiwe Dana is a renowned singer and activist who is unafraid to both challenge and delight your ears. She implores, "Come, let’s start a tribe!"
Saturday, March 16, 2013, 11 a.m.
Freshlyground, the Cape Town-based, multiracial septet that has achieved superstardom in South Africa and Europe, brings its infectious grooves to Apollo Family Showtime. Its upbeat, easy-on-the-ear Afropop blend has earned the group number-one hits, including the 2010 FIFA World Cup theme “Waka Waka,” which was sung with Shakira. At times referencing a maskanda rhythm or incorporating mbira (thumb-piano), or singing Xhosa, a language spoken in South Africa, Freshlyground’s irresistible grooves delight stadiums of fans.
The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on this legacy. New Apollo programming has music
as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance, and theater presentations.
The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant programs, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For more information, visit www.apollotheater.org
The Apollo's annual season is made possible by lead support from The Coca-Cola Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., The Parsons Family Foundation, the Ronald O. Perelman Family Foundation, the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Reginald Van Lee New Works Fund, the Ford Foundation Fund for Global Programs, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Folonari Wines, the Apollo Board of Directors and many other generous donors.
Lead annual support is also provided by public funds from the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council; with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and the New York State Council for the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.