My 15 Minutes in Apollo Theater History
My Apollo Theater experience was in the summer of 1999. At the time I was very active in the local gospel rap scene. My passion was to spread the good news through my rapping talent and to do it in venues that would not normally be exposed to it, so I set out to hit all the major venues across the states. I called the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York and asked what the procedure was to participate in their amateur night. I was informed that I would have to come in to audition and that if I got a call back, then I would get my opportunity. I immediately bought a bus ticket and headed to New York.
As I was walking on 125th street I could feel the creative energy and history of the area surrounding the Apollo Theater. I have performed at a number of historic and well-known venues, but this was by far the most special. The Apollo is an icon in African American history, and the moment I stepped on stage I would become a part of it! My audition went well, and I received a call back even though the judges informed me that although they thought I was talented, they were reluctant to pass me through thinking I would get booed the moment the crowd realized it was gospel rap. I became determined to make it through my performance, even if I heard boos. I achieved my goal, but just barely.
The crowd was in an "extra" booing mood that day and the three acts that preceded me all got booed off the stage. People were even booing with no one on the stage, so I came on with the crowd already booing. I won most of the crowd over as soon as I started rapping; halfway through the performance I heard a couple boos, got scared and started to freestyle. I think most of the crowd respected that, so they started clapping again. I achieved my goal, so I stopped while I was ahead. Ultimately I got beat by an 11-year old who was rapping, singing and tap dancing, so I didn't feel too bad, as he deserved it. After the performance we joined the crowd heading to get food at Sylvia's - this was a great way to top off my Apollo Theater Experience.