The famed Apollo Theater in Harlem unveiled its brand new Walk of Fame on May 10, honoring artists Smokey Robinson, Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown, among others.
The world-renowned auditorium recognized great recording artists with a series of rectangular bronze plaques set into the sidewalk outside the theater along 125th Street.
Also honored with plaques at the walk’s unveiling were Little Richard, Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones and Gladys Knight. Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin will be honored at a benefit next month.
Robinson, the long-time singer-songwriter for Motown Records, said the moment took him back to when he performed at the Apollo.
“For me to have a plaque honoring me in front of the Apollo Theater is one of the proudest achievements in my life,” Robinson told the AP. “I started out at the Apollo and it will always be a home to me.”
“I always say, if they tear down 125th Street and everything on it, please leave the Apollo standing,” he said.
LaBelle also spoke of how the Apollo helped to launch her career.
“My career began at the Apollo, so I’m humbled to be able to be a part of its rich and continued legacy,” she told reporters.
In fact, the concert hall is known for launching the careers for many artists. It’s helped further the careers of Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Brown, The Jackson Five, Lauryn Hill and a host of others. It was also the site of the first national television performance for the Washington, D.C.-based dance troupe, Beat Your Feet Kings.
The importance of the monuments was not lost on Jonelle Procope, president of the Apollo Theater, who said the artists recognized on it have been a major influence on American culture.
“We need to teach history,” Procope told reporters. “Pedestrians can get a little taste of our legendary performers.”