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Amateur Mic: Apollo Certified R&B Icons

Before tunes like “Neither One of Us” and “Put That Woman First” reached radio, R&B artists including Gladys Knight and Jaheim took the stage at the legendary Apollo Theater.

Known for its famed ‘Amateur Night,’ the Apollo Theater certified the following recording artists before Billboard and the RIAA.

Pictured: Gladys Knight

gladys knight, apollo theater, amateur

gladys knight, apollo theater, amateur

Before tunes like “Neither One of Us” and “Put That Woman First” reached radio, R&B artists including Gladys Knight and Jaheim took the stage at the legendary Apollo Theater.

Known for its famed ‘Amateur Night,’ the Apollo Theater certified the following recording artists before Billboard and the RIAA.

Pictured: Gladys Knight

jaheim, apollo theater, amateur

jaheim, apollo theater, amateur

At 15 years old, Jaheim entered ‘Amateur Night’ at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, he won three times.

Speaking of the three time win, Jaheim offered: “Yeah, I won on The Apollo three times, and the third time I won I met Kaygee (Naughty by Nature) and he said I didn’t have to go back no more. So I never went back.”

Since his three time win at Apollo, Jaheim has gone on to release four albums, including 2001s “Ghetto Love”.

ella fitzgerald, apollo theater, amateur

ella fitzgerald, apollo theater, amateur

Legendary Jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald entered Apollo’s amateur night competition after loosing a game with two friends — that decision led to Fitzgerald being coined the best jazz vocalist of the century.

“There I was, nervous as can be, only 15 years old with the skinniest legs you’ve ever seen — and I froze; got cold feet. The man in charge said that I had better do something up there, so I said I wanted to sing instead. The audience was laughing,” Fitzgerald recalled prior to her death in 1996.

Three encores after the first laugh, Fitzgerald won amateur night.

She was later dubbed the “First Lady of Song”.

jackie wilson, apollo theater, amateur

jackie wilson, apollo theater, amateur

Before reaching the top 10 with “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” R&B singer Jackie Wilson took the stage at the Apollo Theater.

Wilson, at one point part of ‘The Dominoes,’ went on to release multiple hit singles including “I Get The Sweetest Feeling” until his death in 1984.

billie holiday, apollo theater, amateur

billie holiday, apollo theater, amateur

Iconic jazz/blues singer Billie Holiday also performed at the Apollo Theater before being posthumously honored in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Holiday has been dubbed “Lady Day” and “Queen of Song” by music enthusiasts.

isley brothers, apollo theater, amateur

isley brothers, apollo theater, amateur

Grammy Award-winning icons The Isley Brothers are known just as much for their performances at the Apollo as chart toppers like “Between The Sheets”.

Early on The Isleys opened for Jackie Wilson. In fact, the group signed to RCA after an executive witnessed their show prior to Wilson’s set.

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