HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) --Long before it was common practice to see singers get famous on reality shows, audiences were picking favorites at a New York institution known as The Apollo Theater.
That tradition of discovering new talent lives on today, along with preserving the theater's role as an important piece of African-American culture.
The folks who run Amateur Night at The Apollo like to say "you better be good, or you're gonna be gone," but 10-year-old Ayanna Little has a plan to prevail.
"I'm going to close close my eyes and count to three," she said.
And that seemed to work just fine, as the audience loved the fourth-grader's "Who's Lovin' You." But not every one is so lucky.
"The Apollo Amateur Night is known to be brutally honest," historian Billy Mitchell said. "Our audience is brutally honest, and they will be like that forever."
In fact, the audience reaction is as integral to the performance as the singer.
"The audience is the show, that's the joyous part of it," producer Marion Caffey said. "They get to say whether somebody's good, great, ugly, indifferent."
Stars have been discovered there since 1934, and for the artists of tomorrow, today's stars like Grammy-winner Chrisette Michele mentor with a message.
"This is your art," she said. "This is your life. And if you really believe in it, tonight is just a stepping stone to your destiny."
So touch the "Tree of Hope" for good luck, take a leap of faith, and perhaps, you will be the new star that is born.