Apollo Night talent show event gives students opportunity to showcase skills

Coby Daniel

Staff Writer

On Feb. 25, Troy University’s National Association for Black Journalists (NABJ), in a first-time collaboration with Miss Elite Society, will have its annual talent show titled Apollo Night.

The tickets are $5 per contestant and audience member with a grand prize of $100 for the winner.

Not only is prize money available for contestants but also exposure for people with talent around Troy’s campus and a chance to socialize before the talent show starts.

Apollo Night may seem like an ordinary talent show, but its history and purpose set it apart.

Apollo Night derives from the mid-1900s talent show titled “Amateur Nights in Harlem” held at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, for singers looking for a break.

Harlem, already having a large musical background for black musicians, became a staple for upcoming musicians and comedians to perform at the theater. Stevie Wonder, The Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin are some entertainers who performed there early in their careers.

Amateur Nights in Harlem had a different rating format than most talent shows. If the audience members blared with excitement for whoever was performing, they went on to the next round.

But if the audience began to boo while someone was performing, a person called the Sandman would swiftly run out on stage with a broom and sweep the contestant off to the side of the stage.

To prevent the chances of coming face to face with the Sandman, contestants would rub a lucky wooden log before leaving backstage and beginning their performances.

Eventually, in 1987, the Amateur Nights turned into a televised series titled Showtime at the Apollo.

With all of these different entertainers going on to become stars, The Apollo became a staple in the black community that crossed generations. This is why NABJ decided to start its annual Apollo Night.

“It’s been happening since before I was the advisor (for NABJ),” said Journalism and Communications Professor Shari Hoppin.

Hoppin said that she thinks the tradition of Showtime at the Apollo resonated with students enough for them to want to keep the tradition alive.

Kemeya Walker, a senior social work major and the president of Miss Elite Society, said she shares these feelings.

“Bringing Apollo Night to this kind of environment can let us be thankful where we came from and maybe introduce people to Apollo Night’s origins,” Walker said. “It’s (during) Black History Month, so that would be a good way to send it off and have a good time.”

But Apollo Night is not limited to only the black student body on Troy University’s campus, according to NABJ president and senior broadcast journalism major, Kymesha Atwood.

“We (NABJ) do care about events tailored to not specifically the black community but the community as a whole on campus,” Atwood said. “We know people may have talents but might be afraid or don’t have a platform and we can give them one.

Being able to grow Apollo Night is one of Atwood’s main concerns, which is where Miss Elite comes in. “(Miss Elite) has a bigger organization than we do, that would tailor to the student body as far as connecting and getting people out to the event,” Atwood said.

Talent shows are a word of mouth marketing showcase for the performer. During Amateur Night at the original Apollo Theater, the audience instantly let it be known if they liked or disliked the performance.

That concept still stands (though less rude) when it comes to NABJ’s Apollo Night.

Atwood said the event is a good career opportunity for NABJ students.

“This is a way for us to build our communication skills, flyers and portfolios about work that we have done and impacted the community.”

Tickets are on sale now and will be sold in front of the event. Contact NABJ on Instagram at Troy_NABJ.   

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