Photo of Edwin Starr with Gary Kelly on organ courtesy of Gary Kelly
Gary Kelly shares the sentiment with Henry Hopkins that the Apollo was a place of certification. “You were not official until you did the Apollo,” Kelly states, while Hopkins observes that the Apollo “provided a place for national recognition” that no other place could match.
Both men also highlighted the fact that the Apollo was just as important for up-and-comers as it was for established entertainers. Hopkins reminds us that Ella Fitzgerald earned much fame for performing at the Apollo and winning one of the theater’s earliest Amateur Nights. Kelly marked that while rivalries existed backstage, there also were opportunities for learning and mentoring relationships.
Through a time period spanning 30 years, qualities of the Apollo remain the same: national significance, a chance for new talent to shine, and the ability to give anyone star power. Undoubtedly, these stay true to this day and through every story left to tell.