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Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: The Apollo Theater and American Entertainment

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Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment celebrates the seventy-five year history of the Apollo Theater, Harlem's landmark performing arts space and the iconic showplace for the best in jazz, blues, dance, comedy, gospel, R & B, hip-hop, and more since it opened its doors in 1934. This beautifully illustrated book is the compa Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment celebrates the seventy-five year history of the Apollo Theater, Harlem's landmark performing arts space and the iconic showplace for the best in jazz, blues, dance, comedy, gospel, R & B, hip-hop, and more since it opened its doors in 1934. This beautifully illustrated book is the companion volume to an exhibition of the same name, organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation. It offers a sweeping panorama of American cultural achievement from the Harlem Renaissance to the present through the compelling story of a single institution. Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing brings together a diverse group of twenty-four writers to discuss the theater's history and its intersection with larger social and political issues within Harlem and the nation. Featuring more than 300 photographs, this volume brings to life the groundbreaking entertainers in music, dance, and comedy—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, James Brown, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Honi Coles, and Savion Glover, to name a few—who made the Apollo the icon that it is today. The Apollo Theater has been the setting for soaring achievement and creativity in the face of enormous challenges. In telling this truly American story, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing is a celebration of the lasting contributions of African Americans to the nation's cultural life.


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Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment celebrates the seventy-five year history of the Apollo Theater, Harlem's landmark performing arts space and the iconic showplace for the best in jazz, blues, dance, comedy, gospel, R & B, hip-hop, and more since it opened its doors in 1934. This beautifully illustrated book is the compa Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: How the Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment celebrates the seventy-five year history of the Apollo Theater, Harlem's landmark performing arts space and the iconic showplace for the best in jazz, blues, dance, comedy, gospel, R & B, hip-hop, and more since it opened its doors in 1934. This beautifully illustrated book is the companion volume to an exhibition of the same name, organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in collaboration with the Apollo Theater Foundation. It offers a sweeping panorama of American cultural achievement from the Harlem Renaissance to the present through the compelling story of a single institution. Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing brings together a diverse group of twenty-four writers to discuss the theater's history and its intersection with larger social and political issues within Harlem and the nation. Featuring more than 300 photographs, this volume brings to life the groundbreaking entertainers in music, dance, and comedy—Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, James Brown, Moms Mabley, Redd Foxx, Honi Coles, and Savion Glover, to name a few—who made the Apollo the icon that it is today. The Apollo Theater has been the setting for soaring achievement and creativity in the face of enormous challenges. In telling this truly American story, Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing is a celebration of the lasting contributions of African Americans to the nation's cultural life.

26 review for Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing: The Apollo Theater and American Entertainment

  1. 5 out of 5

    Linda Lou McCall

    I'm trying to maintain a modicum of objectivity in this review (reason revealed in a minute).... This book is absolutely amazing with photos and stories collected by the Smithsonian Institute about the Apollo Theater from just about every source available. Published as the companion to the exhibition of the same name at the in Washington, DC, it is a great addition to the collections of any one in the music business and those who just love R&B music history in general. I've been in the record in I'm trying to maintain a modicum of objectivity in this review (reason revealed in a minute).... This book is absolutely amazing with photos and stories collected by the Smithsonian Institute about the Apollo Theater from just about every source available. Published as the companion to the exhibition of the same name at the in Washington, DC, it is a great addition to the collections of any one in the music business and those who just love R&B music history in general. I've been in the record industry for over 4 decades working with many artists from Isaac Hayes to Con Funk Shun (my late husband's band), from MC Hammer to Eminem. As a young photographer in the early 1970's while attending Howard University, I had the honor of going to the Apollo while working for the R&B trio, The Delfonics. This collection really captures the magic of the jewel in the crown of theaters along what was known as the "chit'lin circuit". These venues, mostly on the east coast, included the Howard Theater (Washington, DC), Uptown Theater (Philly) Small's Paradise and the Cotton Club (NYC), Royal Peacock (Atlanta), Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre (Chicago), Royal Theatre (Baltimore), Fox Theatre (Detroit), Victory Grill (Austin, TX), Hippodrome Theatre (Richmond, VA), and Ritz Theatre (Jacksonville, FL). were often the only places that African-American entertainers could perform from late 1800s to the mid-1970s. Some of the most notable artists were Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Redd Foxx, Muddy Waters, Ike & Tina Turner, Richard Pryor, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Etta James, B. B. King, Moms Mabley, Otis Redding, James Brown, and "The Motown Review" (Supremes, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Miracles, Martha & The Vandellas, etc.) For many of these artists, there was no alternative for much of their careers other than the chit'lin circuit venues. I'm so glad that the Smithsonian Institute made the decision to honor The Apollo with its historic exhibition which opened on April 21, 2010 in DC then toured and nationally until 2012. It will be housed permanently on the Mall in Washington when the newly built Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture building officially opens in 2015. Why did I preface this review with my remark about objectivity? Because the book and the exhibition includes a photograph of The Delfonics in front of the Apollo (page 202) taken by ME in 1970!!!. The photograph is also featured on the museum's website. As a geeky young girl growing up in Washington, I spent every weekender at the Smithsonsian, then consisting of only one small building. I remember when the Museum of Natural History first brought in that huge elephant who still dominates the the Rotunda. The tiny little explorer who shot the beautiful animal was there for a time, standing proudly with a gun taller than he was! All I ever wanted to do was have something exhibited in the Smithsonian. That was merely a pipe dream for for a black child in a time when many of us were denied the right to vote and my relatives Birmingham had to boycott the bus company for the right not to relegated to the back of the bus. I wanted my dress to be shown in the Hall of The First Ladies. Although I didn't quite get there, I DID get a photo in the museum right around the time Michelle Obama's Inaugural gown went on display. BLISS!!! Even if the Smithsonian hadn't honored me by including my work, I would still have bought this book for my library of books about the music business. Extremely well-researched, this book is rare photographic glimpse into an area of entertainment history which has not been given the proper public awareness that it deserves. But for the Apollo, the world would not have had a stage to launch the rich history of African-American music which we enjoy today and will be able to enjoy for years to come.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laura LaPlaca

  3. 4 out of 5

    Caleb Scalzo

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda-Arlene Hoxit

  5. 5 out of 5

    L.M. Elm

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  7. 5 out of 5

    Harlem World Magazine

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yvette Porter Moore

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Strode

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jbondandrews

  12. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shena Eiram

  14. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Howarth

  15. 5 out of 5

    a.k.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Tucker

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maura

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jewell

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brown Deer Public Library

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bookkeeper Millie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ryane Lee

  23. 4 out of 5

    Monica Hunter-Hart

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stevolende

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