Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
The Apollo to Present World Premiere of THE BLUES AND ITS PEOPLE By Trumpeter Russell Gunn

The Apollo to Present World Premiere of THE BLUES AND ITS PEOPLE By Trumpeter Russell Gunn

The Blues and Its People, premiering on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 8:00 pm EST, features seven new music works and selected readings.

The Apollo will continue its 2022-23 season theme of The Next Movement with The Blues and Its People, a new commissioned work composed by Grammy-nominated trumpeter Russell Gunn, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the acclaimed book Blues People: Negro Music in White America written by writer, poet, and political activist Amiri Baraka. The Blues and Its People, premiering on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at 8:00 pm EST, features seven new music works and selected readings from the perennial text. Special guests include Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, Grammy award-winning vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trombonist Craig Harris, saxophonist Oliver Lake, West African Djembe drummer Weedie Braimah, Piano Prince of New Orleans Davell Crawford, and poet Jessica Care Moore. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, November 18.

Baraka's Blues People explores the evolutions of African American music from slavery to Bebop, which was contemporary jazz in 1963, examining how the story of Black life in America can be traced through the evolution of Black music.

"As an organization that champions Black artists and the immense impact that these artists and their music have had and continue to have on American culture, we are excited to commission Russell Gunn to create a timeless work that celebrates the important work of Baraka and the exploration it provides of the African American experience through music while considering the future of contemporary culture," said Apollo Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes.

Commissioned by the Apollo, acclaimed jazz trumpeter Russell Gunn has composed and will perform seven new songs inspired by Blues People with his Atlanta-based, 24-member Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra, whose sound blends traditional big band jazz music with rhythm and blues and southern hip-hop. Excerpts from the book along with other related material on Black culture and history will be woven in throughout the night, and additional narrators, poets, and musical guests will accompany the evening.

Blues People traces the music created by African Americans once they arrived in America and builds a thesis that Black culture developed alongside the music created and cultivated. Baraka examines how cultural and societal events impacted music and vice versa, such as the changes of the African American experience from slavery to emancipation, the link between African music and the music of "work songs" that were common in countries in Africa but transformed during slavery, how Euro-American Christianity merged with African religious music to form gospel music, and how emancipation merged with the struggle for economic and societal equality led to the blues, which eventually birthed jazz and bebop.

Russell Gunn is known as a pioneer in blending jazz and hip-hop genres, and for his extensive work with Grammy-award winning jazz artists and groups such as Wynton Marsalis, Buckshot Lafonque led by Branford Marsalis, Marcus Miller, D'Angelo, CeeLo Green, and Maxwell. Gunn and the Royal Krunk Jazz Orkestra will pay homage to the expanse of Black music, past, present, and future, while highlighting the basic premise of Baraka's work.

Amiri Baraka, aka LeRoi Jones (b. New Jersey, 1934; d: New Jersey, 2014) was a prolific and polarizing writer and poet with a career spanning more than 50 years. He was recognized for his strident social criticism and works that explored themes of Black liberation and racism. Considered a founding member of the Black Arts Movement in American literature during the 1960s and 70s, his works have been described as defining texts for African American culture as one of the most respected and published Black writers of his generation. Baraka spent three years in the U.S. Air Force and studied at Rutgers University, Howard University, Columbia University, and The New School.

More information on the event can be found at

BroadwayWorld Logo Vote Now for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Off-Broadway Awards
Vote Nowvoting ends in

More Hot Stories For You

The Sixth Annual Chanukahstravaganza Comes to Littlefield This MonthThe Sixth Annual Chanukahstravaganza Comes to Littlefield This Month
December 8, 2022

Lana Schwartz and Ilana Michelle Rubin are two Jewish (you might have guessed), native New Yorkers who always get pretty lonely around the holiday season. For the sixth year in a row, they've invited some of the funniest Jewish comedians in New York City (where else?) to help them celebrate the Miracle of Lights: Chanukah. Hannukah. Hanukah. However you choose to spell it. There will be songs, there will be laughter, there will be surprises, and you know there will be gelt. Lots of gelt. Tons of it.

Einhorn Prize Reading Announced At Triad Theater, December 11Einhorn Prize Reading Announced At Triad Theater, December 11
December 7, 2022

On Sunday December 11 at 2pm, there will be a presentation of the winners of the first David A. Einhorn Playwriting Prize The event will be held at the Triad Theater, 158 W. 72nd Street. The event will run 90 minutes and include readings of the 1st and 2nd prize winners, some words about David Einhorn, and a talkback on the topics addressed by the plays.

Off-Brand Opera Presents CAROUSEL, December 10 & 11Off-Brand Opera Presents CAROUSEL, December 10 & 11
December 7, 2022

Off-Brand Opera returns this fall with a fresh take on Carousel, the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein classic. Carousel will be presented with a fresh take on the classic work, featuring performers from a variety of artistic backgrounds in restaurant Bella Ciao's intimate basement cabaret space.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. to be Presented at AMT Theater in JanuaryBEAUTY AND THE BEAST JR. to be Presented at AMT Theater in January
December 7, 2022

​January 18th through the 22nd is BEAUTY AND THE BEAST at AMT Theater. Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm, Saturday at 2 and Sunday at 3pm.

QUILLÉN A New Musical To Premiere At Winterfest, December 13-17QUILLÉN A New Musical To Premiere At Winterfest, December 13-17
December 6, 2022

Latiné Musical Theatre Lab and Teatro Latea unite to present the new Chilean musical Quillén at New York Theater Festival's Winterfest, December 13-17, 2022.