Apollo Live Hits a High Note With The “Apollo Live Lounge” In NYCPublished by Danica Daniel on Saturday, December 15, 2012 at 6:00 am.
It was LIVE and oh so direct in Harlem, on the last stop of Apollo Live Lounge Tour Series in Harlem, New York. The crowd at the swanky Bleu Violin buzzed in anticipation of an amazing night of fun and entertainment as amateur acts braved the stage for a chance to win a cash prize!
The judges for the evening, Hip-hop’s beat-box aficionado Doug E. Fresh, BET’s Executive VP of Music Programming and Talent Stephen Hill and platinum recording artist and Apollo Live’s very own judge Michael Bivins. “I think Apollo Live is the best thing to happen for the fabric of the community,” Bivins said of the Apollo Live revival. “Apollo can put New York and Harlem back on the map. To all singers, performers, rappers – whatever you do – come see us at Apollo Live, ‘cause we want to see you!”
But before contestants got their chance to grab the mic, the crowd commanded the spotlight. Vaudeville vibes pulsed through the audience as they sung and danced along to chart-topping tunes blasting through the sound system.
The waiting staff, all fitted with Apollo Live t-shirts, shimmied through the crowd with platters of foods and complementary drinks provided by Chambord Liqueur Royale de France. It was a feel-good night for guests, but the nerves of contestants were palpable as they waited along side the stage for their time to shine and justifiably so, as the first three performers of the night’s competition were boo’d off stage in less than 30 seconds.
Greginald Spencer, Stephen Beasley and Evan Michael Smith, former Apollo Live contestants, kept the night grooving along with brief intermission performances, easily commanding the spotlight. A few of the vetoed acts weren’t so lucky. Performers reluctant to drop the mic, even after being prompted by the cackles of the candid crowd, waited for the competition’s the executioner, Ricky Evans, to embarrassingly dance them off stage. “If they’re not doing well and are just listening to themselves and can’t hear the boo’s,” said Evans, who also goes by the nickname Glytch, “[then] I gotta visually let them know it’s time to go!”
Anthony Thomas brightened the mood with his self-penned rap “Mr. No Name.” Stephen Hill and E. Fresh both leaned forward during Thomas’ performance, giving the emcee’s lyric labyrinthine their undivided attention. Bivins, clearly impressed, extended a handshake to Thomas as he made his way offstage. However, smooth siren Murielle, aka MJP, challenged Thomas for the top spot with a live trumpet-assisted cover of Norah Jones’ popular 2002 single, “Don’t Know Why.” Choosing the night’s champ was going to be difficult.
“We’re definitely at the Apollo tonight, even if we’re not actually in the Apollo Theater,” Javid Louis of the LifeFiles.com shouted over the audience noise as host Rico Williams held his hand over each contestant, prompting the crowd to the cheer for their winner. “I think that’s why it’s still number one – on top of American Idol just because of the history of the brand. [It’s] something that just can’t go away. It represents something more than just a talent competition.”
Finally after a night of amazing performances, the crowd speaks and a winner is chosen: Haitian beauty MJP beats her competitor by a decibel, taking home the cash prize.
“There’s no other platform where you can sit in the audience with your neighbor, and cheer on someone who can spread their music to the world,” said Bivins at the end of the night.
-Reporting by Rebecca Francois