Robert F. Smith: Growing Up With Harlem in His Soul
Though he grew up in Denver, Colorado, the smooth sounds of Harlem Jazz are nostalgic for Robert F. Smith. Whenever he hears raspy vocals accompanied by a soulful saxophone, he’s transformed to his childhood. Raised by a father who attended college on a band scholarship, music was at the crux of his household — Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Louis Armstrong were at the center of the Harlem soul that flowed through his veins, even half-way across the country.
Preserving the Apollo’s Legacy
Smith’s particular investment in both music as a whole as well as Harlem Jazz specifically, drives his investment in supporting the Apollo.
In 2019, the theater recognized Vista Equity Partners and Smith for its commitment to the global community and the advancement of cultural diversity. The recognition was presented at the theater’s 14th Annual Spring Gala, which raised $2 million to fund its year-round artistic and community programming. Vista and Smith were honored with the Corporate Award for Outstanding Leadership in Innovation, Diversity and Global Community. This award is presented for outstanding contributions to performing arts, leadership within a community, and general philanthropic efforts in support of the African American community.