The Big Apple or NYC is the hub of the entertainment industry of the world. Just stand in the middle of Times Square and make a 360 degrees turn. There are entertainment entities surrounding it, namely, Broadway, off-Broadway and stand up comedy clubs. There are no advertisement boards here that are not related to the entertainment industry.
Entertainers all over the United States of America would flock to the city to try their luck, making entertainment their living. Many American dreams were fulfilled here in NYC. For the hopefuls, it is just a matter of time and the right person that they would meet to jumpstart their dreams. And, they might win a lottery of their life.
According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, NYC supports 60,000 music-related jobs, pays USD5 billion in wages and that it results in USD21 billion in economic output. It is said that the NYC music industry is way much bigger compared to Los Angeles and London.
Like any normal visitor in NYC, I took this opportunity during my stay to be entertained by the entertainment fraternity.
WONDERFUL TONIGHT WITH ERIC CLAPTON
“It’s late in the evening; she’s wondering what clothes to wear
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair
And then she asks me, Do I look all right?
And I say, “Yes, you look wonderful tonight…”
- “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton
The lyrics to the song “Wonderful Tonight” practically make women especially weak in the knees. That’s our blues singer, Eric Clapton, 73 years old, who still has the sting in his on stage performance. I did not want to miss his show in NYC and actually bought the concert tickets in advance from California. I went to the concert on 6 October, 2018.
For the second time in a month, I witnessed a “congregation” of the baby boomers, including yours truly. Last month I went to The Eagles Concert in San Diego; for the first time I saw thousands of eager and matured faces of audiences lining up to enter the concert venue. The line then was about two miles. Again, a replica of the situation took place at Madison Square Garden and also with the baby boomers. On both occasions, I can safely say that the average age group of the audience at the concert was 55 years old.
At Madison Square Garden, Eric Clapton sang his famous songs — I Shot The Sheriff, Layla, Tears In Heaven and Wonderful Tonight. I can understand why he got his nickname “Slowhand”. He was ever so cool on stage and did not over represent himself. No screaming and no aggressive movement on stage. Totally in awe of his performance. As for the “matured” audiences, they were singing along with him. The matured female audiences were screaming out aloud when he sang Wonderful Tonight.
THE SCHOOL OF ROCK: CONVENTIONAL VS FREEDOM
One should not miss out on the many Broadway shows in NYC. Like they say, experience counts when you are visiting places. I must admit that I have seen quite a number of Broadway shows whilst living for 7 years in NYC, for example, The Lion King, Mamma Mia and Phantom of the Opera. So, I chose to go to The School of Rock show this time around; it is quite a new play making its presence on Broadway.
The School of Rock has children as its target audience. The actors were mostly children and the actress, Joan Cusack, acted as a principal of a private school. It is an energetic show with the story line which centers on a “boring” conventional school (you know, mathematics, science and geography) versus freedom of expression school with talent prioritisation. Put simply, Barbara Streisand vs Led Zeppelin. Well, I don’t have to elaborate which one wins at the end of the day (freedom of expression, of course!).
The main actor who played the rugged teacher’s role was excellent. He made everyone awake until the end of the show. He was super energetic and his live performance was to be reckoned with. As for the children’s roles, they actually played the instruments for real.
APOLLO THEATER: LAUNCH PAD FOR THE AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN MUSIC INDUSTRY
Prior to my visiting the place, I have read a lot about Apollo Theater in novels depicting on the blacks and the music industry. Put it succinctly, it is a launch pad for the African-Americans (blacks) to conquer the music industry of the world.
Located in the neighbourhood of Harlem, Apollo Theater was built in 1913 and it used to be surrounded by dilapidated buildings and graffitis. But when I visited the place on 4 October, 2018, the area has been spruced up and beautification efforts of Harlem by the authorities was quite impressive.
The Apollo Theater has its own Hall of Fame with the names of the renowned music industry figures displayed on the walkway. Those who had performed in Apollo Theatre would have their names on the walkway, including Prince, Michael Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan. These names have not only made it in the USA but also at global level. The Apollo Theater has certainly provided an excellent launch pad for the African-Americans involved in the music industry to be known worldwide. Until this day, the special Amateur Night At Apollo is still held at the premise, giving opportunities for the raw and young ones.
A fan of Dionne Warwick, I believe she too had gotten the support of the African-American community in the USA after her performance was endorsed by the Apollo Theater. Subsequently, she too made it big at global level with songs like “I’ll Never Love This Way Again” (1979) and “Heartbreaker” (1979). These songs were my favourites during my university days at University of Malaya and I still remember the songs lyrics until today.
In 2015, there was a reunion of Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight at the Apollo Theater. And, together they sang another of Dionne Warwick’s hit song “That’s What Friends Are For”; the crowd went totally berserk. I can imagine what the powerful voices of these three singers coming together can do to the audiences.
Finally, NYC has made its niche in music industry decades ago. The new breed of singers is still associated with their NYC debut. Good music definitely comes from the NYC music industry. Where else?
Thank you for reading, guys.
Noorul Ainur Mohd. Nur
8 October, 2018
- Pictures were taken by the writer.