Also, President Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama sends Kwanzaa greetings

Apollo Theater President & CEO Jonelle Procope

APOLLO HOLIDAY PARTY-Apollo Theater President & CEO Jonelle Procope and Minton’s owner and Apollo Theater Board Chair Richard Parsons

*HARLEM, NY – The legendary Apollo Theater held a swinging holiday cocktail party for its board of directors and leadership funders on Monday, December 9, 2013, at the hip and classy Uptown jazz club — Minton’s in Harlem — which re-opened in October 2013 at 206 West 118th Street (St. Nicholas & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, Harlem, NY).   This eclectic mix and mingle served as a thank you to the board and supporters for sustaining this steeped in Black history jewel on the historic 1-2-5 Street as the pride of the Harlem community.

“We thank the board for guiding the nonprofit Theater’s artistic and community programs, fundraising efforts, and strategic planning and for their vision and expertise in helping the Theater to fulfill their mission while enabling the Theater to realize its full potential,” stated The Apollo Theater’s president & CEO Jonelle Procope.

The dressed to impress upscale invitees enjoyed delicious morsels of delight and holiday spirits while being delightfully entertained by Minton’s beloved house band.  And in unique Apollo style, by impromptu performances by noted singer-songwriter-pianist Peter Cincotti, and Apollo Theater Board Member and legendary star of stage and screen, Leslie Uggams.

The happy holiday happening was hosted by Apollo Theater Board Chairman Richard “Dick” Parsons, owner of Minton’s, and Apollo Theater Vice Chairman Ronald O. Perelman, CEO, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., and attended by Ed Lewis, co-founder of Essence magazine; Debra Martin Chase, film and television producer; producer Stephen Byrd; Apollo Theater Board Member Lisa Garcia Quiroz, chief diversity officer and senior vice president, corporate responsibility, Time Warner Inc.; Apollo Theater Executive Producer Mikki Shepard; Apollo Theater Board Members Carla Harris, managing director, Morgan Stanley, Troy Dixon, former managing director Deutsche Bank, and William Lighten, managing director, Eland Capital Partners and president, Lighten Family Foundation.

Also, Jacqueline & Kevin Nickleberry, Marilyn Booker, JoAnn Price, Athena and Mario Bollag, Nadja Fidelia, Peter Cincotti, Lana Woods, Melody Parker, Daisy Holmes, Mark Mason, Fred Terrell, Michele Pagnotta, Carolyn Mason, Judy Byrd, Charles Atkins, Jerry & Debra Shriver, Erana Stennett, Grahame Pratt, Laura Bush Parsons, Yaz Hernandez, David Bartsch, Rodney & Michelle Adkins, Rita Jammet, Hope Knight, Al Zollar, Chris Taylor and many, many more.  (Photos by Shahar Azran)

Minton’s owner and Apollo Theater Board Chair Richard Parsons and Minton's House Band

APOLLO HOLIDAY PARTY-Minton’s owner and Apollo Theater Board Chair Richard Parsons and Minton’s House Band

The Apollo Board of Directors
The legendary Apollo Theater has been a driving force in shaping America’s musical and cultural landscape since its inception in 1934.  A truly American landmark, it is one of the only institutions in the nation where the nurturing of emerging talent is given equal priority with the presentation of legendary performers.  The Apollo Board of Directors, the governing body of the nonprofit foundation that operates the Apollo Theater, is charged with stewardship of its mission and preservation for future generations.  The 32-member Board is composed key leaders in the business, civic, philanthropy, and arts and culture sectors.

Minton’s Harlem
Minton’s was the place where Bebop was born.  Founded in 1938, the jazz club became the setting for a revolution in jazz.  Harlem’s now revived jazz supper club celebrates the traditional cuisine of the Low Country, which Minton’s refers to as “Southern Revival cooking with Low Country notes” under the tutelage of Restaurateur Richard Parsons with Executive Chef Alexander Smalls and Chef de Cuisine Banks White.  The legendary Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem — reworked and re-launched — restores the legendary music space to its historic grandeur.  Minton’s, which features major artists of our time and emerging musicians, is braced to revitalize the uptown music scene by reclaiming the legacy of a musical institution.  The new identity, along with the new logo, color and typography palettes, is launched online with a website that expands the new visual language of the club/restaurant.  For additional information, visit

*Established by Maulana Karenga in 1966, Kwanzaa is a holiday that honors African American and Pan-African heritage from December 26 through January 1, 2014 by millions throughout the world African community celebrating family, community, and culture.  It takes its name from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which in Swahili means “first fruits.”  “First fruits” celebrations date back to ancient Egypt and Nubia, and commemorate the harvest.

The cultural celebration is accompanied by a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.  The holiday engages as an ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people’s culture.  The Organization Us is the founding organization of Kwanzaa and the authoritative keeper of the tradition.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama sent Kwanzaa greetings in a statement issued on the eve of the distinguished celebration Thursday, December 26, 2013:  “Michelle and I extend our best wishes to all those celebrating Kwanzaa this holiday season.  Today marks the beginning of the week-long celebration of African American culture through family activities and community festivities that bring attention to Kwanzaa’s seven principles of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.  Though each principle represents the essence of this holiday, they also represent the shared values that bind us as Americans.  As families and communities across our country come together today to light the Kinara, our family sends our hopes for a prosperous and healthy new year.”

Kwanzaa’s origin lies in the 1960s civil rights and Black Freedom movements, and is a way of commemorating the African heritage of Black Americans whose ethnic history was stripped away by the slave trade.  Swahili is the most widely spoken African language, and was thus chosen as the language of Kwanzaa’s principles.

“Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture,” explained Karenga.  “It is a cultural rather than religious holiday, and can be celebrated regardless of a person’s faith tradition.”

The colors black, red, and green are part of Kwanzaa celebrations due to their special significance.  Black represents the people, red is for the blood uniting all those with African ancestry, as well as the bloodshed during slavery and the civil rights movement, and green is for the lush land of Africa.  These colors also reflect the Pan-African movement itself.

Families gather during Kwanzaa to light the kinara, a candle holder with seven candles in the colors of red, black, and green.  The black candle is placed in the center and used to light the other flames from left to right.  Together, the candles are called the mishuuma saba, and they represent the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa, celebrated on each day of the holiday and known collectively as Nguzo Saba.  They are African values which are named in both Swahili and English:

Umoja: Unity
Kujichagulia: Self-determination
Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility
Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics
Nia: Purpose
Kuumba: Creativity
Imani: Faith

Other traditions include the kikombe cha umoja, or Unity Cup, which is used to pour libations in honor of ancestors departed.

Songs and dances are a popular way of celebrating Kwanzaa “Life Every Voice And Sing,” also known as the Black National Anthem, is a song that celebrates the struggles and triumphs of Black Americans.

Kwanzaa greetings are in Swahili and English. “Habari gani?” is a traditional Swahili greeting, and the response is each of the principles, depending on which day of Kwanzaa it is. Other greetings include “Heri za Kwanzaa,” or simply, “Happy Kwanzaa!”

New York based award-winning journalist Audrey J. Bernard covers entertainment, fashion & beauty, film, lifestyles and travel for the Electronic Urban Report and other outlets.  Contact her via:

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Audrey J. Bernard