The Apollo Theater, one of the nation’s greatest cultural treasures will induct Lionel Richie and the late Etta James into the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame during the seventh annual Spring Gala Benefit Concert.
Proceeds from the gala, to be held on Monday, June 4 will go toward the non-profit theater’s education and community engagement programs.
In addition to performances honoring Richie and James, the program will include tributes to three musical icons that have passed this year.
Ten-time GRAMMY winner Chaka Khan will perform a tribute to the late superstar Whitney Houston; Eddie Levert, in honor of Soul Train creator Don Cornelius; and Valerie Simpson for her husband and legendary songwriting partner Nick Ashford.
The evening will be hosted by celebrated comedian and former host of Showtime at the Apollo, Sinbad, with American Idol’s Ray Chew serving as musical director.
Richie and James join past Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductees-all legendary musicians, artists, and entertainers whose paths to fame included the Apollo-Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Little Richard, and Ella Fitzgerald. Each Apollo Legends Hall of Fame inductee is honored with a plaque in the Apollo Walk of Fame, installed under the Theater’s marquee on 125th Street.
Lionel Richie’s first Apollo appearance was in the early 1970s, with The Commodores, who were opening for Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. “The Apollo is such an important part of music history in this country, and my own personal history,” said Richie. “When they called and said they were putting me on that list of names, I was thrilled. It’s an honor to be a part of the Apollo Legends Hall of Fame.”
Additionally, each year at the Spring Gala benefit, the Apollo recognizes a corporation whose support enables the theater to grow and expand its artistic, community, and education programs. The Apollo will present Citi with its 2012 Corporate Award, in recognition of its outstanding philanthropy and community leadership.
“Citi is proud to be a long-time supporter of the Apollo Theater,” said Citi CEO Vikram Pandit. “The Apollo is world-renowned for discovering great talent and its education programs are second to none.”
The evening includes the gala benefit concert and awards ceremony, produced by Ron Weisner for Ron Weisner Entertainment, and a glamorous after-party featuring a stylish lounge transformed and created by celebrity event planner Marc Wilson of Marc Wilson Design.
Proceeds from the Apollo Spring Gala benefit the Apollo Theater, a not-for-profit organization. The Apollo’s world-class performances and education programs honor the influence and advance the contributions of African American artists and emerging creative voices across cultural and artistic media.
(AP Photo/Evan Agostini)