Legendary St. Paul Night Club Arnellia’s To Close As Owner Battles Cancer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — After 25 years of bringing live music to the people who love it, a legendary St. Paul nightclub is closing its doors.

Many local, national and international artists have performed what’s known as the “Apollo of Minnesota.” Arnellia’s will shut its doors at the end of the month because owner Arnellia Allen has cancer.

For 25 years Arnellia’s has been a venue that gives artists what they need most.

“Ms. Arnellia gave me an opportunity to be who I am today,” Ryan Bynum said.

Bynum has played for some of Minnesota’s legends, like Fred Steele.

“This is where it started for me,” Bynum said. “When I couldn’t get a gig anywhere else, I could always get a gig here. This was home first.”

For more than 10 years R&B vocalist Ray Covington has performed at Arnellia’s. He says it’s always been about the music.

“It’s where artist are able to perfect their styles and express themselves artistically,” he said. “We’ve shared the stage with legends, we’ve watched trailblazers with us and we’ve found ourselves being trailblazers for the next generation coming up, and it’s all been on the same stage.”

This music venue — where Prince has graced the stage — will go dark at the end of the month.

“It’s like losing a part of  your family,” Arnellia’s son Jerry Allen said.

Allen says he hates to see the club go, but he knows his priority is his mother’s health.

“They can say a prayer for her, because she’s going through some health issues at this moment,” he said.

Kathleen Johnson says she wants people to focus on the positive impact Arnellia’s has had on the Minnesota music scene.

“She helped us grow and be strong in what we were trying to do,” Johnson said.

She says there were incidents over the years where police were needed, but the music always drowned out the sound of sirens and the love of those who graced the stage always overpowered the negative.

Arnellia’s also held neighborhood gatherings from birthday celebrations to employment and diversity workshops. The club will close April 30 after a four-day celebration.

More from Reg Chapman
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