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The Apollo's budding Flowers

CYRIL JOSH BARKER Amsterdam News Staff | 5/25/2012, 12:48 p.m.
Second Esperanza Spalding show added at the Apollo

When Nina Flowers first went to the Apollo Theater when she was 15 to see a concert featuring the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, she never anticipated that she would be one of the key figures in bringing the famed venue's flair back.

Serving as the Apollo Theater's associate director of marketing and communications, Flowers is not only the public relations whiz for the legendary theater, but she is also responsible for filling the house. As the Apollo continues its legacy as a nonprofit organization, Flowers is one of the key figures in making sure visitors see more that just what's on stage.

"People are aware of the history of the Apollo and not the concept of what the Apollo is and where it's heading now," she said.

Hailing from East Harlem, Flowers said her mother always exposed her to culture with trips to plays and restaurants. An avid reader, she was often rewarded with trips to Barnes and Noble. Her love of reading would take her to Pennsylvania, where she attended boarding school. There, she got a leg up on college.

After high school, she received a full scholarship to Long Island University (LIU), where she majored in marketing and media arts. She got her first crack in the real world with an internship at Vibe magazine doing public relations.

"That's when I developed my love for PR," she said. "For me, the business was alluring. I would see these fabulous women making things happen. Vibe is where I learned the ropes."

While at Vibe, she wrote music reviews and also wrote for Blaze magazine.

Flowers went on to get her MBA from LIU, and while in grad school, she worked for an entertainment law firm, where she did talent coordination. She also learned about the legalities of the entertainment industry and established relationships with artists like the Neptunes, Ludacris, the Wu-Tang Clan and Celine Dion.

After getting her MBA, she worked for the website SOHH.com doing talent coordination. She eventually got connected with rapper Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan, working on his album and at his label and touring with him.

However, at church one Sunday, she saw an ad in the bulletin for her current position at the Apollo Theater. All of her life and professional experiences turned out to be the perfect recipe for bringing people to the Harlem icon. She's held the position since 2005.

"The thing that makes the Apollo special is that people are personally connected to this place," she said. "I like seeing things come together. It was very personal coming here. I love that at this job, I still get surprised."

Flowers is in the middle of the 78th season of the legendary Apollo Amateur Night. She is also preparing for the theater's annual spring gala, which will honor Lionel Richie and the late Etta James. In addition, she is one of the people at the helm of the Apollo's return to television with the upcoming show "Apollo Live," which will air on Centric.

When she's not working, Flowers is writing. She's currently working on two fiction novels.