Showtime at the Apollo: The Epic Tale of Harlem's Legendary Theater

illus. by James Otis Smith. 240p. Abrams ComicArts. Jan. 2019. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781419731389.
If you love the Apollo, this book is for you! If you've never heard of it, this book is for you! Have you listened to any American music from the 20th century? This book is for you! In seriousness, this title looks at one of the great, lasting centers of entertainment for African American performers and audiences. Located on 125th Street in Harlem, the Apollo began as a showcase for musicians, dancers, and comedians in the fading days of vaudeville but evolved and adapted its format to thrill packed houses for decades to come, featuring artists from Cab Calloway to Ella Fitzgerald to James Brown to Michael Jackson. The energy of the place is palpable, even frenetic, in Smith's illustrations of shows, backstage drama, and complex business dealings. Fox's text, adapted from his dense cultural history, draws readers in as he describes individuals, musical eras, and even the cultural heritage of the building itself. Though not the last word on the history of African American musical entertainment, this is an exciting starting point.
VERDICT A dynamic, fact-filled offering for teens curious about musical history.

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