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Steel Drumming at the Apollo: The Road to Super Top Dog

Overview

Ahmel, Aaron, Spencer, Dayshawn, Andre, Steven, Dha'Sean. Seven remarkable musicians in the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band. Seven high school friends who came together for the journey of a lifetime.

In January 2005 talent scouts from the world famous Apollo Theater came to Schenectady, New York, the boys' hometown. After beating out the competition there, the band went on to New York City to battle the best amateur acts in the country in front of the boisterous Apollo Amateur ...

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Overview

Ahmel, Aaron, Spencer, Dayshawn, Andre, Steven, Dha'Sean. Seven remarkable musicians in the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band. Seven high school friends who came together for the journey of a lifetime.

In January 2005 talent scouts from the world famous Apollo Theater came to Schenectady, New York, the boys' hometown. After beating out the competition there, the band went on to New York City to battle the best amateur acts in the country in front of the boisterous Apollo Amateur Night audiences. The competition got tougher; but, with their unique sound, the seven friends ignited the crowds into thunderous approval time after time. By December they had made it to the final face-off, the Super Top Dog show. Could the band now drum their way to the top?

Filled with the thrill of competition, the elation of winning, and the passion of pursuing a dream, Steel Drumming at the Apollo is a celebration of the power of music to unite and excite us all.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Eve Suhling
Join in on the incredible journey of a young, talented group of musicians from Schenectady, New York as they work their way up through a series of tough competitions. A personal glimpse of each member's life story documents their involvement in this dynamic group. Ultimately, hard work leads to performing at the world-renowned Apollo Theater. Considerable time and effort were needed to prepare for this once in a lifetime event, a challenge that was not taken lightly. Filled with confidence and hope, the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band leaves us with anticipation as we watch the crowd's reaction to their stunning performances time and time again. Will they perform their way to the top? The pages are bursting with bright photographs, special sections of interesting facts, and even a CD of the band's actual recordings at the Apollo. Music teachers could inspire their students with the story of these young men, and the book would make a superb supplement to a percussion curriculum. Reviewer: Eve Suhling
School Library Journal

Gr 4-7- The excitement of rivalry with a driving beat pounds through this account of the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band's journey through three amateur rounds in the Super Top Dog competition at Harlem's Apollo Theater. Marx introduces the seven young men, a combination of brothers and friends who attend the John Sayles School of Fine Arts and The Hamilton Hill Arts Center in Schenectady, NY. Dancers, singers, and talented musicians proficient on varied instruments, the musicians share a passionate dedication to their dreams that has helped them overcome a variety of family and personal difficulties. Marx traces the band's progress through the tiers of competition in clear evocative prose depicting the visceral experience of performing as well as the hard work of practice and composition. Senisi's color photographs enliven every page with shots of the teens (her son among them), the crowds, and the theater, capturing the thrill of the experience. Sidebars offer interesting background information about musical instruments and equipment, aspects of performance, and the Apollo itself. A CD of the band performing eight original selections, including their signature piece, "Bailamos," completes readers' sensory experience. More than just the story of a music competition, Steel Drumming at the Apollo is an inspiring story of young people overcoming personal odds with creativity and vision.-Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS

Kirkus Reviews
What does it take to play Amateur Night at the renowned Apollo Theater? Here readers can find out in the company of a steel-drum band formed by a group of Schenectady teens. After introducing each of the seven members, most of whom perform on several instruments, Marx traces their course as they get together to rehearse, audition locally and then appear on stage for the "Apollo on Tour," "Show-Off" and culminating "Top Dog" competitions. Along with individual close-up portraits of the graceful, good-looking young musicians and glimpses of the Apollo's backstage area, the clear color photos expertly capture the band's look and energetic vibe. No, they don't win. But, packaged with a CD recording of the band's signature song plus seven more cuts done by partial line-ups, this account of their efforts makes inspiring reading for young performers tempted to try for the limelight themselves. (CD) (Nonfiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781600601248
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2007
  • Pages: 56
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Lexile: 930L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Trish Marx has written several books for children, specializing in nonfiction, especially contemporary events and environmental issues, interests that stem from her background in teaching and journalism . For Steel Drumming at the Apollo, Marx and Senisi spent many hours with the boys in the Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band, talking with them and photographing during jam sessions, rehearsals, and Apollo Theater Amateur Night competitions. Marx lives in New York City.

Ellen B. Senisi is a photographer and author of photo-essays for children. She specializes in candid, on-site photography of children in school, family, and nature settings. Her photographs also regularly appear in consumer magazines, professional journals, government publications, textbooks, and other illustrated works. Senisi lives in Schenectady, New York. Steel Drumming at the Apollo is her first book for older readers.

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