Celebrating Sekou Sundiata: Poetry At The Apollo And April Calendar

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In celebration of National Poetry Month, the world famous Apollo Theater will present "Tongues of Fire Choir" a music and poetry concert to celebrate the late, great poet Sekou Sundiata, on Saturday, April 27th at 8 pm.

The evening is the opening performance of Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited, a seven month, citywide retrospective that honors and explores the legacy of the late artist, poet, and educator. The event will feature Amiri Baraka, Abiodun (of The Last Poets), Black Thought (of the Roots) and Rakim, with special guests Regina Carter, Bobbi Humphrey, Wunmi, Vernon Reid and Liza Jessie Peterson, and Craig Harris’ music ensemble The Nation of Imagination. Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited is curated and produced by MAPP International Productions through a partnership with 17 cultural and educational organizations throughout NYC.

The show, which was reconceived by musician and longtime Sekou Sundiata collaborator Craig Harris, is a restaging of the 1996 production originally created by Sekou Sundiata and Harris. Sundiata’s work will come together in an evening of music and spoken text in collaboration with famed poets who, like Sundiata, explore the idea of “What’s in a name?” In this incarnation of the Tongues of Fire Choir, four African-American male writers, over three generations - Amiri Baraka; Abiodun of the Last Poets; Hip-Hop legend Rakim; Tariq Trotter, aka Black Thought, of The Roots; and other special guest artists - will push words and music to where they intersect and become one inside a musical score composed by Craig Harris and performed by his ensemble the Nation of Imagination. The concert will follow a lyrical journey as each poet explores his craft within the tradition of the cipher, celebrating their collective role in the continuum of African-American male identity while building on the transformative impact of the work of Sekou Sundiata.

“We are so pleased to host and collaborate with MAPP International Productions on this event which pays tribute to the legendary work of Sekou Sundiata, ” said Mikki Shepard, the Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer.

Tickets for Tongues of Fire Choir are $25, $35 and $45. Tickets are available through the Apollo Theater Box Office, 125th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, 212/531-5305 and Ticketmaster, (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.

In addition to the Tongues of Fire Choir concert, other Apollo events in April include: SALON SERIESApril 8-13, 2013; April 15-20, 2013Expanding on the Apollo’s tradition of nurturing artists and providing critical support in their creation of new work, the Theater’s Salon Series acts as an incubator for artists to develop and test new work across disciplines.  Artists presented in the Salon Series have the opportunity for a full week to develop their work on the Apollo’s Soundstage (150 seat black box theater), culminating in two workshop performances.

“blessing the boats: the remix”- A Staged ReadingFriday, April 12, 2013, 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 13, 2013, 7:30 p.m.In addition to Tongues of Fire, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in collaboration with the Apollo Theater will present “blessing the boats: the remix”- A Staged Reading,” a re-imagined version of Sekou's autobiographical powerful play. Under the direction of Rhodessa Jones, Sundiata's landmark work, originally presented as a solo performance revisits his story as told through the unique interplay of performers Will Power, Carl Hancock Rux, and Mike Ladd.  The piece will premiere during the River To River Festival in June 2013.  “blessing the boats: the remix”- A Staged Reading is also part of Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited.

RSVPS for “blessing the boats the remix” – A Staged Reading are required online or by phone at: 212. 219.9401 x114. Reservations do not guarantee entry. Seating is first come, first serve.

Rux RevivalAn Evening with Carl Hancock Rux & CompanyRux Revue - Friday, April 19, 2013, 7:30 p.m.Homestatis- Saturday, April 20, 2013, 7:30 p.m.Carl Hancock Rux, returns to his artistic roots and reunites his spoken word/performance band in Rux Revival.  Through Rux’s signature “dizzying oral artistry,” this weekend will reflect on his musical journey from the autobiographic work of his critically acclaimed debut album Rux Revue to his albums Apothecary Rx, Good Bread Alley, and Homeostasis, which explore more global themes.  Blending multimedia by video artist Onome Ekeh and live performance, Rux reunites with original band members including Helga Davis, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, Jason DiMatteo, and Fred Cash and is joined by new band members Hamilton “Fitz” Kirby and Lon Kaiser to capture the revival experience through spectacle and electrifying sound.

Rux Revue, Friday, April 19, 2013 - with special guest KimberlyNichole Rock Ballerina

Homeostasis, Saturday, April 20, 2013 – with special guests Nona Hendryx and Martha Redbone

Tickets for An Evening with Carl Hancock Rux & Company are $15. Tickets are available through the Apollo Theater Box Office, 125th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, 212/531-5305 and Ticketmaster, (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.

APOLLO MUSIC CAFEApollo Music Café showcases creative underground artist in a series of diverse performances across genres, including R&B, hip hop, soul, jazz, pop, funk and rock. Presented in the Theater’s intimate Soundstage, the series continues the Apollo’s longstanding commitment to presenting diverse and innovative artistic voices. Since its debut, in February 2011, the series has become a favorite destination for music lovers of all kinds – from Harlem tastemakers to tourists to the downtown hipster set.

Toni BlackmanApril 5, 2013 – 10 p.m.Toni Blackman blends the creative energy of trumpeter Muneer Nasser, with her own soulful brand of poetic hip-hop. One might call it an experiment, but it's more like an experience of expression of the highest honor--calling forth ancestral sounds while stepping into the ancient future.

Carolyn MalachiApril 6, 2013 – 10 p.m.Spiced with a freshness that uplifts the heart and spirit, Carolyn Malachi’s performance is an enchanting musical journey, guaranteed to inspire, enlighten and rejuvenate.

URBAN WORD NYC15th Annual Teen Poetry Slam FinalsSaturday, April 20, 2013, 7 p.m.The Apollo’s celebration of National Poetry month continues when New York City’s hottest teen spoken word artists compete with nothing but a mic and their powerful voices. Contestants rant, rap and recite their own original work. This event is hosted by Regie Cabico, with beats by DJ Reborn, and featuring Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy’s Youth Ensemble & University of Wisconsin’s First Wave Ensemble and special guest MC Lyte. For more details, visit urbanwordnyc.org.

Tickets for Urban Word NYC: 15th Annual Teen Poetry Slam Finals are $12 for teens under 19 years old and $18 for adults. Tickets are available through the Apollo Theater Box Office, 125th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, 212/531-5305 and Ticketmaster, (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.

About the Apollo TheaterThe 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 restaging of the Tongues of Fire Choir is sponsored by Time Warner Inc. with generous support provided by the Ford Foundation Fund for Global Programs.

The Apollo Salon Series is sponsored by Time Warner Inc. Generous support also provided by the Reginald Van Lee New Works Fund and the Ford Foundation Fund for Global Programs.  Additional funding provided by the New York State Council on the Arts.

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, Time Warner Inc., Bloomberg Philanthropies, JoAnn Price, Folonari Wines, the Apollo Board of Directors and many other generous donors.

Lead annual support is also provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and the City of New York Theater Subdistrict Council, with additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 

The development and presentation of blessing the boats: the remix is supported by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and its River To River Festival 2013.  Major support for blessing the boats: the remix comes from the Ford Foundation.  Leadership support for the River To River Festival comes from the Alliance for Downtown New York, The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, HUD, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Westfield, and American Express.  LMCC's Public Programs are supported, in part, by Ameriprise Financial, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Charina Endowment Fund, F.B. Heron Foundation, and Lambent Foundation. LMCC's Public Programs are also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Tongues of Fire Choir and the staged reading of blessing the boats: the remix are presented as part of Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited produced by MAPP International Productions and made possible with generous support from Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, Surdna Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of the Tides Foundation, Leveraging Investments in Creativity, Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Axe-Houghton Foundation, New York Council on the Humanities, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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