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Drake to play Harlem’s Apollo Theater for special SiriusXM concert

The exclusive SiriusXM concert will be Drake’s first performance at the iconic theater.
Drake speaks onstage on Oct. 30, 2021 in Long Beach, Calif.
Drake in Long Beach, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2021.Amy Sussman / Getty Images file
/ Source: Variety

Drake, arguably the biggest rapper in the world, will play a special concert at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York’s Harlem neighborhood that will be broadcast on SiriusXM, he and the network announced on Tuesday. The performance at the 1,500-capacity venue is a rare club date for the artist.

Details on the show were slim — “Drake will perform at the world-famous Apollo Theater in New York. The exclusive SiriusXM concert marks the first time that Drake will perform at the iconic theater,” the announcement reads — but the concert will be the latest in a long series of special, intimate gigs the network has staged at the iconic venue.

However, this concert will mark one of the first times the network has presented such a concert from a rapper: Past shows include U2, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Pitbull, and earlier this year, Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Fans should head here to score tickets, but act fast.

Artists often play special, custom sets, knowing that the set will be broadcast to die-hard fans. U2’s set was completely different from the one they played on their stadium tour — they opened with three songs from their 1980 debut album — and Lady Gaga played a condensed, hit-filled version of her Las Vegas setlist that eliminated nearly all of the slow songs and was a nearly overpowering dance set.

The move is long overdue, as the Apollo is a legendary incubator of Black musical talent and over its nearly 90-year run has hosted Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and many others.

Since it introduced the first “Amateur Night” contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as an unforgiving testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop.

Last year, the Apollo received a $5 million gift from SiriusXM. In recognition of the gift and for the many special performances held by SiriusXM at the theater since 2010, the Apollo named the Orchestra Level of the historic theater the SiriusXM Orchestra.

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