Upon approaching The Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, you could feel the soul emanating from the building. Countless legends have walked upon and fans have canvassed on this hallowed ground while partaking in the grooves delivered on a stage that has plenty of a story to tell.
On the brisk Tuesday evening (Oct. 19), VIBE entered the historic fortress of soul music for a night filled with melodious tunes, freewheeling couplets, and much more. In the spirit of YouTube’s initiative working towards prioritizing inclusivity and connecting with the current and next generation of consumers, the platform hosted a night of performances that bridged the gap between various age groups and kicked off New York’s Advertising Week.
First up on the stage was YEИDRY, a rising songstress who has been gaining traction off the strength of her singles “YA” and “YOU,” the latter of which features Damian Marley. Wowing the crowd with her impressive vocals and strong stage presence, YEИDRY had much of the crowd longing for more upon her last selection.
Upon YEИDRY’s exit and a brief intermission, Yung Baby Tate greeted the crowd with a set that confirmed why she’s one of the hottest young spitters in rap today. Flanked by a pair of dancers in orange bodysuits, Baby Tate put forth a charismatic performance, hyping up the crowd with the fan favorites “Focus” and “Eenie Meenie” amid her daily affirmations.
With the energy having been ratcheted up by Baby Tate, DJ D Nice helped bring the atmosphere to a simmer in preparation of Jazmine Sullivan’s stirring performance, as the Philadelphia bred vocalist showed plenty of sisterly love to the five boroughs.
“New York, make some noise!” she said in command to the crowd before ripping into some of her biggest hits. Backed by a live band and wearing a black leather jacket and top, with a blue skirt and thigh-high boots, Sullivan wowed the crowd while running through numbers like “Bust Your Windows” and “Pick Up Your Feelings.”
“Last time I was at the Apollo, I think I was 11 years old, the Heaux Tales creator revealed in the middle of her set before speaking on her evolution as a performer from those promising beginnings. From there, Sullivan proceeded to tear down the stage with the H.E.R. collaborative effort, “Girl Like Me,” before exiting stage right and returning to deliver an epic rendition of “Burn’ in front of the Apollo crowd.
DJ D-Nice kept the concertgoers’ energy going with a mix of hits from the ’90s to ’21 before announcing the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul’s arrival. Following a raucous reception and her opening number of Rose Royce’s 1976 hit, “I’m Going Down,” Mary J. Blige trekked through some of her seminal hits. She brought the people to their feet with her 1994 single, “Be Happy” and hit her iconic bop, with the crowd encouraging her footwork with chants of “Go Mary!” in support.
Taking inspiration from her My Life playbook, Mary donned a black leather jacket, pants, boots, and her classic My Life era cap and took the crowd into overdrive before transitioning to her Share My World smash, “I Can Love You.” Rounding out her set on an upbeat note with performances of “Just Fine” and “Family Affair,” Blige headlined the YouTube sponsored event with a diverse performance emblematic of the platform’s mission to highlight Black voices in entertainment and beyond.