Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment traces the evolution of the Apollo—from its origins as a segregated burlesque hall to its starring role at the epicenter of African American entertainment and American popular culture. Nearly all forms of entertainment—comedy, dance, swing, jazz, rock 'n' roll, soul, hip hop, and more—were welcomed on the Apollo stage. Serving as a place where African American performers could start and advance their careers, the Apollo helped to launch the careers of some of the best-known names in entertainment—dancers Charles “Cholly” Atkins, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson; band leaders Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington; comedians Redd Foxx and Jackie “Moms” Mabley; and musicians ranging from Louis Armstrong, James Brown, and Lionel Hampton to Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, and the Jackson Five.
A richly illustrated companion book, with a foreword by Motown singer, songwriter, and producer Smokey Robinson, features historic photographs and essays by more than 20 historians, musicologists, and critics.
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing was organized by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Harlem’s Apollo Theater. The exhibition will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York from February 8 through May 1, 2011.
The exhibition’s national tour is made possible by a generous grant from Time Warner Inc. Additional funding was provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The exhibition’s national tour is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES).
Lead sponsorship of the Museum of the City of New York’s presentation of the exhibition is provided by Bank of America.
Additional support is provided by the New York Council for the Humanities and Nixon Peabody.
Essence is a media partner of the exhibition.