With June upon us it’s not out of the realm of thinking to assume a steady stream of 80 degree days to accompany Black Music Month!! To paraphrase Black Thought, it’s time for “that Hot Music, that Hot Music.” Actually, we got to hear him spit that in his comfort zone as the 14th Annual Roots Picnic returned in front of a live audience for the first time after 2 years of virtual performances at The Mann at Fairmount Park. For 2022 the fest was expanded to two days (June 4th & June 5th) and the music palate of jazz (Kamasi Washington, Robert Glasper), hip hop (Chief Keef, Freddie Gibbs), R&B (Jasmine Sullivan, Summer Walker, Keisha Cole, Musiq, Durand Bernarr) and gospel (Kirk Franklin, Tye Tribbett) was expanded to country (Mickey Guyton). In retrospect, the weekend’s highlight was the versatility of Black Thought as he demonstrated why he’s considered the emcee’s EMCEE! In one of the featured sets Black Thought’s Live Mixtape with DJ J Period, he was able to match flow, content, and theme with a diverse lineup of elite rhymers like Pharoahe Monche, Rick Ross, Benny the Butcher and M1 of Dead Prez, while reemerging later in the night with headliner Mary J Blige to admirably fill in the rap verses of her classic “What’s The 411?” For closure he returned a day later to pay homage and share space with pioneers DJ Jazzy Jeff and Rakim.

This Monday, The Roots make their way down the turnpike and will grace the stage as one of the featured acts, along with special appearances by Stephanie Mills, Kamasi Washington, Ogi and Derrick “D-Nice” Jones for the 2022 Apollo Spring Benefit, the historic Theater’s largest annual fundraising event. Hosted by Emmy Award winner and SNL Cast member Kenan Thompson, the celebratory benefit concert for the iconic non-profit Theater will honor filmmaker, actor and philanthropist Tyler Perry with the Impact Award to be presented by Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg. Global investment and merchant banking firm LionTree will receive the Corporate Award. Aside from the top flight entertainment aspect or the recognition usually associated with the Apollo Spring Gala community was and remains the main impetus of the event. In light of the nation’s fiscal health, producing a fundraiser was sure to have significant hurdles. Jonelle Procope, president & CEO, Apollo Theater, provides insight, “Fundraising is always challenging but the Apollo is fortunate to have many loyal donors, who understand our mission and look forward to participating in this event and we are so thrilled that they have stepped up to support the Apollo’s artistic, educational and community programs.” The Apollo season’s theme, “The Renaissance is Now!,” and its presentations expanded the non-profit theater’s role as a partner, commissioner, and co-producer of programming that centers Black artists and voices from the African diaspora, while tackling social issues that are important to Harlem, New York, and the nation. “The Apollo has long been at the intersection of artistry and activism, and this season paid special tribute to our incredible community of artists with timely presentations that honored our past, examined our present, and looked ahead to our bold future,” said Apollo Theater Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes. “From the inspiring new projects by our Apollo New Works artists to the annual Kwanzaa Celebration and Apollo education events that serve students across the city, both at the Apollo, in the community at large and on our digital platforms, we continue the Apollo’s legacy in this time of renewal and renaissance.”

So steadfast is the belief of the donors to the mantra of the new season, we heard rumblings that The Apollo has already exceeded the fundraising goal, raising the most in the event’s history. Confirming this incredible achievement Procope shares, “I have to thank the Spring Benefit chairs, Kwanza Jones and Jose E. Feliciano. Pam and Jon Henes and Pat and Al Zollar. They have worked very hard to ensure the success of our fundraising. Our premier sponsors BNY Mellon, LionTree LLC and Supercharged by Kwanza Jones also played an important role in this accomplishment. And of course, I want to thank the Apollo’s special events staff who do a wonderful job raising money and organizing the evening. Funds raised support Apollo programs like School Day Live, Pathway to the Arts (the Pathway) program, and Half off for Harlem.”
The Apollo season’s theme, “The Renaissance is Now!,” and its presentations expanded the non-profit theater’s role as a partner, commissioner, and co-producer of programming that centers Black artists and voices from the African diaspora, while tackling social issues that are important to Harlem, New York, and the nation.

Tickets for the Apollo Spring Benefit are now on sale. To purchase Benefit tickets or to make a donation to the Apollo Theater, please email special.events@apollotheater.org.

Proceeds from the Apollo Spring Benefit support the Theater’s year-round performing arts programming, innovative education initiatives, and community programs. For more information, visit www.ApolloTheater.org

The Apollo is now officially back. Hope to see and feel you there. Over and out. Holla next week. Til then enjoy the nightlife.

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