Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater has a new theme song for 2014.

Audience members voted Clifton Williams, a senior at Berklee College of Music, winner of the 2014 Amateur Night Song Competition. The singer, songwriter's composition will be the new official theme song for Amateur Night at The Apollo sponsored by Coca-Cola, the longest running talent competition and platform for discovering new artists in the U.S. 

Tuning Up The Apollo's Signature Program

Reflective of its enduring relevance as a catalyst for discovering and developing new talent, The Apollo Theater launched the Amateur Night Song Competition earlier this year—challenging musicians from across the country to compose a song that captures the vitality of the show that has launched so many legendary artists over the past 80 years. 

“Supporting and developing up-and-coming talent is absolutely central to our mission at the Apollo Theater,” said Mikki Shepard, Executive Producer at the Apollo Theater.  “We are so proud of Clifton, and eager to hear his composition during Amateur Night every Wednesday for years to come.”

The Apollo began accepting submissions for the competition via in late February. Over 10,000 submissions were uploaded and fans were able to vote online for their favorite. This voting period resulted in two finalists—Clifton Williams and Daryl Brown. 

Clifton Williams
Williams listens as the crowd votes with cheers. 

In March, Williams and Brown were flown to Harlem to record their compositions with the Amateur Night Band—the beginning of the young finalists’ “first semester at Apollo University,” as described by Amateur Night producer Marion J. Caffey. After another month of online voting, the songs were performed live at a special edition of Amateur Night. The famously boisterous audience cast their votes via a room full of cheers and boos, crowning Clifton Williams the winner.

“One of the best things that can happen to a young, up-and-coming musician is to win at the Apollo Theater,” said Marion J. Caffey, Amateur Night Producer.  “I think Clifton is exceptionally talented and his music is intelligent and soulful. We are proud to welcome him as part of the Apollo family.”

Since the legendary theater opened in 1934, Amateur Night has been a definitive career making opportunity for new talent. Over the past 80 years, Apollo Amateur Night has launched the careers of countless legendary artists—from Ella Fitzgerald in its very first year to recent winners Machine Gun Kelly, NUMBERS, Matthew Hashimoto, Moses Harper, Matthew Whitaker, and Nathan Foley—and has occurred virtually every Wednesday night since the Theater opened. A place in the Amateur Night line-up is a highly coveted opportunity for up-and-coming artists hoping to be discovered. For Williams, his win is the beginning of a bright music career.

Williams also received a cash award of $5,000 to help support his artistic endeavors. 

About Clifton Williams
Clifton Williams, 22, born in Washington, D.C., is a senior at Berklee College of Music, where he studies Music Education and Contemporary Writing & Production. Performance highlights include touring with the Official Blues Brothers Revue and with the world renowned Harlem Gospel Choir, both nationally and internationally.  Recently, Clifton performed at the annual MLK Concert in Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Texas and was featured as a pipe organist at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The accomplished pianist aspires to be a well-rounded musician and an inspiration to all who encounter him.

About Amateur Night 
Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul and hip-hop.  From its notoriously tough audience to the magic of the Tree of Hope, the Apollo Amateur Night story is the stuff that legends are made of - literally. Amateur Night has been the launching pad for some of the world’s greatest artists including Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five and Lauryn Hill. Long before Ted Mack and the Amateur Hour and American Idol, Apollo Amateur Night was, and continues to be, a primary source for discovering new talent and spotlighting up-and-coming artists, all hoping that the hallowed stage and the approval of the Apollo audience will launch their careers in the entertainment world.

Click here to see a list of upcoming events for Amateur Night at the Apollo