Grand Opening Gala and Benefit Concert

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Howard Theatre, the historic arts landmark that launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes, is reborn after a 32-year hiatus and a $29 million renovation. The Howard Theatre re-opened the week of April 9 with a lineup that included Wale, Wanda Sykes, The Roots, Robert Randolph, Taj Mahal, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Meshell Ndegeocello, Bad Brains, Chuck Brown, Chuck Berry, Esperaza Spalding and a weekly Sunday Brunch featuring the Harlem Gospel Choir. The full schedule of upcoming shows and information about tickets are available at

On the brisk, sunny morning of April 9, The Howard Theatre hosted a vibrant, indoor-outdoor Community Day celebration. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Mayor Vincent Gray, Councilmembers Jim Graham and Marion Barry, and ANC Commissioner Myla Moss joined Howard Theatre Restoration directors and renovation project leaders and lenders in a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the Rev. Sandra Butler-Truesdale that officially opened the Theatre after so many years! While an outdoor stage presented live performances by Robert Thompson & The James Brown Experience Band, The Jewels, and other acts, many hundreds of people from the community received guided tours of the new, gleaming facility, many sharing memories of their previous visits to the Theatre with children and friends. Community Day also featured the unveiling of the colorful Jazz Man Statue by Brower Hatcher which rests atop The Howard Theatre as well a dedication of the Duke Ellington sculpture by Zachary Oxman that is the focal point of the newly redesigned Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington Plaza across from the Theatre.

Then, on April 12, Howard Theatre Restoration hosted the Grand Opening Gala featuring performers from The Howard Theatre's past and future, including Smokey Robinson, Al Jarreau, Madeleine Peyroux and Savion Glover. Comedians Wanda Sykes and Dick Gregory provided sharp humor and Bill Cosby helped emcee as he entertained between the musical performances that traced the history of the Theatre. The event honored Motown Records founder and producer Berry Gordy, and featured tributes to legendary performers Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, and Billy Taylor, as well as Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun. The Grand Opening Gala served as a kick-off fundraiser for Howard Theatre Restoration's next goal: to create a new Howard Theatre Education and Cultural Center that will be built behind the newly renovated Theatre.

From left:Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy, Chrisette Michele. Photos by:


Performances & Appearances by:

Smokey Robinson
Berry Gordy *** Honoree
George Duke (Music Director)
Afro Blue
Raheem DeVaughn
Savion Glover
Dick Gregory
Lalah Hathaway
Jimmy Heath
Al Jarreau
LCB (Leonard, Coleman & Blunt)
Les McCann
Frank McComb
Chrisette Michele
Keb Mo
Bobby Parker
Madeleine Peyroux
Robert Randolph
Dianne Reeves
Martha Reeves
Eric Roberson
Joe Sample
Donnie Simpson
Alice Smith
Wanda Sykes
Leslie Uggams
Warren Wolf
Frédéric Yonnet

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Amtrak is the official ground transportation company of the Howard Theatre Gala

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