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Chip Shelton at Creole, Apollo jumps

Ron Scott | 1/31/2013, 4:25 p.m.

Now in its third season, the Apollo Music Cafe series crosses genres as performers swing in the theater's Soundstage, which offers a nightclub setting with bar and stage-side seating. You don't have to go downtown to be hip in an avant-garde setting. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 general admission.

"The Apollo has always been about what's next, and our Black History Month programs honor the past while looking forward into our future," said Apollo Executive Producer Mikki Shepard. "While Apollo Music Cafe recreates a lounge-like atmosphere ... our open house weekend welcomes the community in to hear performances and reconnect with the theater, and our new 'Live Wire' series will focus on the Apollo's seminal role in the development of American culture."

On Feb. 7, the Apollo's education program introduces a new series with the "Apollo Live Wire Discussion Series with Black Men/Soul Music." Duke University professor of Black popular culture Mark Anthony Neal will lead a discussion on the artistic, social and political legacy of soul music and its role as an expressive art form for Black men. This event is free and begins at 6:30 p.m. RSVP required at www.apolloeducation.org.

The weekend of Feb. 9 and 10 features a free open house. This is a chance to see another side of the Apollo and hear tidbits from in-house historian Billy Mitchell, who has been associated with the famous theater since 1965.

The open house ends on Feb. 10 with the film "Voices of Love: Whitney Houston and Her Family." This documentary traces the history of song in this talented family while celebrating the power of gospel music to heal, to transcend and to entertain. It features Dionne Warwick, Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston, Sweet Inspirations, the Drinkard Singers, Roberta Flack, Gary Houston and the Drinkard Singers II. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker, Gary Keys.

On the same day, other screenings of significant importance will include the Community Works documentaries "Harlem Is ... Gospel" and "Harlem Is ... Music," as well as New Heritage Films' "Hughes' Dream Harlem," a cine-poetic film on Langston Hughes featuring Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. For a complete schedule, visit apollotheater.org.