Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Lauryn Hill, The Jackson 5, Luther Vandross, and Dave Chappelle are just a few of the names of the icons that the Apollo Theater served as a launchpad for their careers to stardom. Now, the legacy of the historic landmark will be chronicled in a new documentary set to air on HBO.
The official trailer for, ‘The Apollo’ documentary was released Wednesday, and HBO reports the story of the theater’s rich history will be reportedly told through archival footage of both performances and behind-the-scenes video, along with interviews. The interviews will feature artists, including Smokey Robinson, Jamie Foxx, Angela Bassett, Patti LaBelle, and Pharrell Williams.
Williams, who was one of many to begin his career on the theater’s legendary stage, said, “I don’t know where any of us would be without all those performances on that stage. ‘The Apollo’ is the beginning of all of it.”
The documentary will reportedly focus on the venue itself, which originally opened back in 1914 as the Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, and was for “whites-only.” It was later renamed the Apollo in 1934 and finally opened its doors to black people.
HBO reports that the “Creation of this vibrant multi-media stage show frames the way in which The Apollo explores the current struggle of black lives in America, the role that art plays in that struggle and the broad range of African American achievement that the Apollo Theater represents.”
The Apollo is directed by Academy Award-winning and Tribeca alumnus Roger Ross Williams who says ‘The Apollo’ is about so much more than just music, “It’s about how we used music and art to lift ourselves out of oppression,“ adding, “The story of the Apollo is the story of the evolution of black American identity and how it grew to become the defining cultural movement of our time.”
The documentary is set to premiere November 6th on HBO.