The Apollo Theater Oral History Collection (CCOHR), 2008-2011

Project: The Apollo Theater Oral History Project

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The Apollo Theater Oral History Project documents the history of the Harlem institution, which served as the cultural center of the neighborhood for decades and catapulted dozens of African-American performers to national fame. Conducted in conjunction with the Apollo Theater Foundation in anticipation of the theater's 75th anniversary, the project consists of 27 interviews conducted between 2008 and 2011. Among those interviewed are performers in music, dance, and comedy; business managers; music industry employees; previous owners; and audience members who recount their relationship with the Apollo and their perceptions of its legacy. Performers describe the supportive but demanding culture of the Apollo and its role in honing their skills and building their reputations. Audience members and longtime neighborhood residents recount the key role of the Apollo in developing a sense of community and in bringing a cultural outlet to the neighborhood. Current employees of the newly revitalized theater discuss their plans to preserve and restore the Apollo's legacy. As a whole, the interviews reveal the vitality and significance of the theater in the past, present, and future.