10 Stars You Probably Forgot Debuted On Showtime At The Apollo’s Amateur Night

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Did you hear the news? After two successful specials, Fox has picked up Showtime at the Apollo as a weekly one-hour series that will feature Steve Harvey as host. The reimagining of the classic series will debut for the 2017-2018 season, and will feature performances by everyone from John Legend and Chaka Khan to Anderson .Paak, T.I., Chris Rock and Jodeci.

“Instead of just putting on a great show, we’re going to do that and find the next great comic and the next big music star,” said Harvey. “That’s what the Apollo is all about. My roots are on that stage and I can’t wait to be there every week, looking for great talent. Who said you can’t go back home again?”

Many legendary musicians have performed in the hopes of reaching stardom on the Apollo stage, including Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown as well as Luther Vandross and The Jackson 5. And while the following celebs may not have always been embraced by the infamous Apollo crowd, they would eventually make a big enough mark to become major stars down the line. Here are 10 stars you probably forgot debuted through Showtime at the Apollo.

Steve Harvey

Steve Harvey

Harvey hosted the show from 1993 to 2000. And you probably don’t know it, but Showtime at the Apollo is where Harvey made his debut on television in front of a national audience as a comedian and host.

Jazmine Sullivan

If you can ignore Harvey’s rude comments about her attire and size and focus on that voice, I think we could all agree that even at 11, Jazmine Sullivan had some killer pipes.


Sammie Bush, as in, “I Like It” Sammie, tore the house down during the “Apollo Kids” segment while singing Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.” Fun fact: Wonder took part in a Showtime at the Apollo Amateur Night when he was getting his start.


Jamie Foxx

While attempting to revamp Showtime at the Apollo in 2012, Jamie Foxx admitted that he tried his luck in Harlem and got booed early on his career. According to him, former host Sinbad introduced Foxx to the stage as a “West Coast” comedian, and that turned the crowd against him. Check out a later performance when he was already a star and clearly had the crowd on his side:

Dave Chappelle

I guess it’s just hard out here for comedians during Amateur Night. Comic legend Dave Chappelle said he was booed off of the stage when he participated in an Amateur Night competition.

“When I say I got booed off stage? I still remember that boo,” he said while visiting Inside the Actors Studio. “I’d never been booed off stage before. I just remember looking out and seeing like everybody booing. Everybody booing. Even old people! It was the meanest crowd in the world!” He would go on to say that it ended up being one of the best things to happen to him.


While appearing with his group Envy during an Amateur Night competition, nerves got the best of Ne-Yo and his band mates. The boos were so ferocious that you could barely hear the words they were singing at times.


Machine Gun Kelly

The popular MC was reportedly the first White male rapper and, according to him, the first rapper to ever win first place at the Apollo. “That was probably the proudest moment of my career,” he said.


As the story goes, D’Angelo performed at Amateur Night when he was 16 years old and won first place after singing Johnny Gill’s “Rub You the Right Way.” We can’t visually see it, but we’re 100 percent sure he sounded damn good. Check out his performance of “Cruisin'” at the Apollo in 1994 following stardom:


Lyfe Jennings

It was Jennings’s success on Showtime at the Apollo‘s Amateur Night in 2002 that helped him get a record contract and change his life. He competed and won the competition following being released from prison after two years. He would go on to win five straight Apollo Amateur Night competitions.

Lauryn Hill

One of the biggest mistakes the Apollo Amateur Night crowd ever made was to boo Ms. Lauryn Hill. She was only 13 at the time, and when nerves got the best of her while singing “Who’s Lovin’ You,” the crowd went in. However, she wasn’t completely booed off of stage. She managed to finish her performance. Oh, and go on to become one of the biggest artists of the last century.


Images via WENN

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