Prince Inducted Into the Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame; Meli’sa Morgan, Maceo Parker and More Pay Tribute [PHOTOS]
A host of talented artists and notables were on-hand at the Apollo Theater for its 11th Annual Spring Gala. This year's soiree was especially significant, as the iconic venue chose to pay tribute to Prince, with his induction onto the Apollo's hallowed Walk of Fame.
Along with a moment of silence for the victims of the Orlando club shooting, Prince's celebrated band The New Power Generation, kicked things off with a horn-driven version of The Purple One's "1999."
Prince died on April 21, and the legendary musician has been celebrated across the world in the past several weeks. Fans were decked out in Prince's signature color -- purple -- including Apollo's CEO Jonelle Procope; who admitted that, although the Apollo Theater has paid tribute to several artists, honoring Prince proved to be the "most challenging."
"The brilliance, that artistry, that uniqueness," she said. "Prince was one of a kind." Procope also recalled when Prince paid a surprise visit to the iconic Harlem theater in 2009 during Patti Labelle's Walk of Fame induction.
Procope then proceeded to introduce a number of Prince's collaborators; including Meli'sa Morgan, famous for her cover of Prince's "Do Me, Baby," Andy Allo, who recorded three songs with Prince for her album, Superconductor and Maceo Parker, legendary funk and jazz saxophonist who contributed to a number of Prince's records and performances.
"Prince lived and breathed music. He taught me how to challenge myself," said Allo with tears and cheers of support from the crowd. "I am the woman and the artist I am today because of him."
"To be here today to honor and help the Apollo induct Prince into the Apollo Walk of Fame is a pleasure for me," said Parker later on. Parker was expected to perform "Nothing Compares 2 U," but it ultimately didn't happen.
The Walk of Fame plaque honoring Prince was moved to be set in the ground next to legends Ella Fitzgerald and Smokey Robinson. Unfortunately, it'll be awhile before it's put there permanently. In the meantime, Procope asked attendees to turn their attention to the opposite side; which featured a little red corvette with Prince's iconic symbol on the license plate.
Afterwards the celebs headed to the red carpet, including The O'Jays, Leon Bridges, BET's CEO Debra Lee, Empire and Deadpool actress Leslie Uggams, and Cheryl Taylor, mother of the late Phife Dawg, who also passed away this year.
"Some days I'm good and other days I'm a mess," Taylor told The Boombox in regards to coping with the loss of her son. "I have nothing but good things to say to the fans and everyone who reached out to us as a family. It's been very very strengthening and has helped us a lot."
"I have to keep going. Malik would want me to," she also shared, while acknowledging how much seeing Prince honored meant to her. "I am very much looking forward to the show. I'm happy that they're doing this for Prince. I haven't been to any of the occasions, dance parties or anything for Prince so I said I have to do that tonight," she said.
Like many, Taylor held Prince in a special place in her heart -- and not just because of his music but also his revolutionary attitude towards the music industry and social causes. "One of the most significant things was when he wrote 'slave' on his face. I love his music but that was so political and said so much about the music industry and other industries too. So that really stood for me as something important."
Leon Bridges enjoyed a bit of a homecoming. The 26-year-old singer played at the Apollo late last year. "It's great being back," he told The Boombox. "I think it's amazing and it's one of the rare event venues to have supported black musicians since the '30s. So it's definitely a magical place." As for Prince, Bridges revealed that he too draws inspiration from the virtuoso. "As a musician I think we can all take that he was just dedicated to making quality music and the man was a great songwriter. And that's what I want to focus on in my art."
Hosted by LL Cool J, the Spring Gala itself kicked off with Les Twins, who opened for Beyonce's tour three years ago.
Check out the photos from the event above as well as some footage from the show below.