On Monday, June 13th, Prince Rogers Nelson was formally inducted into the Apollo Theater Walk of Fame, joining such musical luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, and James Brown.
The ceremony, part of The Apollo Theater’s 11th Annual Spring Gala, provided an opportunity for lifelong fans of the music legend to gather with those who knew him best and reflect on his life as a performer and a beloved entertainer.
Jonelle Procope, President & CEO of The Apollo Theater
“The induction of Prince this afternoon is a special gala addition of the Walk of Fame. As many of you know, the gala is our biggest night of the year where we raise money to support the Apollo’s artistic and education programs. Tonight includes a concert by the legendary O’Jays , rising stars Audra Day and Leon Bridges, and the dynamic dance duo Les Twins, and it’s going to be hosted by the always amazing LL Cool J.
In 2010, we officially unveiled the Apollo Walk of Fame. We see it as a visual representation of the Apollo’s continued impact on popular culture and a permanent celebration of those legends whose artistic contributions have forever altered the American cultural landscape. When you think about that criteria, the decision about who gets inducted is a no brainer. You see Stevie, Pattie, Ella, Michael, James, and today Prince. This was probably the most challenging Walk of Fame ceremony we’ve done to date. How does anyone best capture Prince? How does anyone capture the brilliance, the artistry, that uniqueness? Prince was one of a kind. Prince: bold, profilic, a musical genius, a rule breaker, trendsetter, innovator, the artist. You know you’re bad – bad meaning good, when you get to go by one name, but you know you’re the baddest when you can go by no name at all, just a symbol. Or for that matter when you can be identified by simply a color: Purple.
Prince is probably the greatest example of what every artist dreams of, to get to be who they want to be, have the freedom to artistically express themselves, and still be lauded for their individuality and talent. From the first day the world was introduced to him in his first television appearance in 1980, when he wore zebra print underwear ensemble, with black thigh high heel boots, with perfect hair, and totally nailing his performance of “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” the world has not been the same, and we haven’t been able to take our eyes or our ears off of him since. He was an iconic genius, a virtuoso musician, especially with the guitar. He played 27 instruments, combining rock and R&B to create a sound all his own. He had Jimi Hendrix’s riffs, Little Richard’s showmanship and James Brown’s dance moves, with a unique voice that could hit the high to low notes. All of that in a 5 foot 2 inch package of a dynamo. As Justin Timberlake recently said, “He was a once in a forever kind of artist.” Although Prince did not play the Apollo over 200 times like James Brown, we claim him all the same.”
Andy Allo, recording artist and Prince protege
“I think the earlier you start in musical education, the better – but it’s never too late. Music is such a beautiful thing, and it’s so expressive. I recently saw this article about a boy who had ADHD, and his mom didn’t know how to handle him. He was so unruly, she just didn’t know what to do. He started listening to music and he started dancing and it changed everything. All of a sudden he became focused and he became this great boy that she knew that he could be, and that only goes to show the magic and the power of art and music, and he was maybe 9 or 10, and it’s so young and to start that young and to show children because they’re so impressionable, to show them that there is such a strength and such a power in art, that isn’t in anything else. It’s so expressive and it’s your soul. There’s a thing about music and art that cuts so deep , and to enforce that at a young age can only make the world better, it can only make art more powerful, because that’s the generation to come, and those are the children who are going to be leading and making more music, and to show them that there’s such power in that is very important.”