Have you ever wondered what vested Michael Jackson, James Brown, Stevie Wonder and countless others to “wow” the crowd at the famed Apollo Theater? Aside from their out-of-this world skills, mesmerizing vocals and captivating dance-moves, it was luck – luck that came from the legendary Tree of Hope, the infamous tree stump rumored to bring good luck to performers who touched it before hitting the stage.
In honor of Black History month and the debut of Showtime at the Apollo on FOX this spring, below please find a quick history lesson on the Tree of Hope at the Apollo Theater, the platform that catapulted so many black performers.
- During the 1930’s, the original tree stood between the Lafayette Theater, Harlem’s top venue for African American performers and what was known as “the Boulevard of Dreams.” The city of New York eventually expanded Seventh Avenue and cut down many trees along the boulevard, including the Tree of Hope.
- Cut into logs, the tree was sold and eventually retrieved by Ralph Cooper Sr., who started “Amateur Night at the Apollo” in 1934.
- During the Harlem Renaissance, aspiring performers such as Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, and Eubie Blake were rumored to have visited the Tree of Hope.
- The tradition of the tree trunk still holds true during 2018’s reimagined version of SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO, where various acts (singers, performers, actors, etc.) rub the stump in hopes of luck.
- The trunk is placed on a column at the right of the stage till this day, maintaining it’s deep roots.
- Today, two more representations of the Tree of Hope can be found near its original spot.
Tune in to FOX to relive a piece of history with the series premiere of Showtime at the Apollo on Thursday, March 1st at 9/8c, hosted by Emmy Award-winning personality Steve Harvey and co-host Adrienne Bailon Haughton (The Real).