Louis ArmstrongQuote.png
A man full of kindness and laughter, Louis Armstrong was a famous jazz artist in the Harlem Renaissance era. Known for always putting a smile on his listeners faces, Louis' connection with his trumpet was astounding. A convict in his youth, Louis rose from his struggles through music, confiding in his trumpet.[1] Armstrong's rise to fame came in the 1920's through large jazz ensambles with other famous artists like himself. He contributed famous hits such as 'What A Wonderful World", and his famous solo album 'The Hot Five'[2] . Louis invented the style of scat singing and trumpet phrasing that other musicians of his time, as well as ours, are still attempting to copy. He was a light hearted guy who put his heart and soul behind the brass.

A Silent film was made about Louis - this young boy portrayed the beginning stages of Louis' true love.

Louis' Upbringing

Louis Armstrong, born and bred in the “Battlefield” of New Orleans on August 4, 1901, had what came to be known as a dysfunctional childhood.[3] Love child of Mary Albert and William Armstrong, Louis and his sister Beatrice were raised by his grandmother until he was five years old, when they moved in with their mother. Just seven years old, Louis got his first job at the Kamofsky’s home. The family helped him buy his first cornet - a brass instrument very similar to the trumpet. At age 12, Louis chose to celebrate New Year’s Eve by shooting a gun into the air of a crowd, consequently being put into a Colored Waif’s Home. The head honcho of the home was Captain Joseph Jones, an African American who influenced Peter Davis to give Louis his first trumpet lessons. Louis mastered the talent and became lead of the home’s brass band. [4]

After two years in the reform home Armstrong was able to return to live with his mother and sister in the poor section of New Orleans. Inspired by the band of the home, Louis formed a quartet with his friends. The group played street corners asking for spare change in their caps. Although New Orleans was a poor desolate area in wealth, the rich musical traditions compensated the culture. Louis’ quartet played many venues: holiday parades, marching bands, funeral marches, and even rowdy bars. Louis stayed in New Orleans until his mentor Joe Oliver invited him to join a new band in Chicago.

The members of the Hot Five; Johnny St. Cyr, Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, and Lil Hardin-Armstrong.

Louis' Prime {1920's}

It was in Chicago with Joe Oliver that Louis' talent began to be noticed. Oliver and Armstrong played off each other in the band, trading solos back and forth, creating wonderful harmonies. The band would play in secret alcoholic clubs called speakeasies, such as The Savoy Ballroom and The Cotton Club, increasing jazz's fame in the Harlem Renaissance. It was in the band that Louis met his wife Lil Hardin in 1924.
Hardin encouraged Louis to quit Oliver's band and to search for his own fame. Louis took her advice, feeling confined in ensamble style which would not give him enough room for his explosive soloing, and began to make his own works. Later he joined the "Hot Five" and "Hot Seven" in 1925-1928. With these groups he gained fame, and with his solo works like "My Heart"(1925) he became the first great Jazz soloist. Louis continued to make famous hit songs like "Ain't Misbehavin'", "Heebie Jeebies" and "Big Butter And Egg Man". By 1929 Louis was a famous musician.

Louis' Long Lasting Fame {1930-71}

As time progressed into the 1930's, Louis' music moved into genre of more pop than jazz. Critics say this happened because of his voice taking on a "charming and gutteral" tendency. [5] However, he kept good ties to his beloved jazz influence. Armstrong was elected to play at the top of the jazz players at the Esquire All American Jazz Concert. Louis recorded hit songs for five decades. He played alongside Earl 'Fatha" Hides, a famous pianist of the twentieth century.
Armstrong was known for a lot more than music. He wrote 2 autobiographies; reflecting on his past and delving into the music culture of Harlem. As an accomplished actor, he appeared in more than thirty films. Most amazinlgy, Armstrong performed three hundred concerts per year on average. Despite his astounding fame, Louis remained a humble man and lived a simple life in a working-class neighborhood, and continued to do what he does best--making people happy. [6]

Historical Significance

On April 6th, 1971, Louis passed away after a fatal heart attack.[7] Louis Armstrong is remembered for being a fun-loving, enthusiastic man who contributed scat singing, and trumpet phrasing - when one plays a certain fill to the trumpet at the end of a measure of music. Armstrong inspired jazz culture by becoming the first jazz soloist to gain nationwide acclaim. He was a star of speakeasies, and a beloved role model for African Americans.[8]
Through out his career, his love for the Harlem Renaissance never died.[9]

Many people remain unaware to the hidden knowledge that Armstrong was a force in the struggle for Civil rights. He fought for equality of African Americans through his music and his voice. Armstrong's music is still around today, such as 'What A Wonderful World' and other hit songs he made famous in the 1920's.

Bibliography | Louis' Upbringing | Louis' Prime {1920's} | Louis' Long Lasting Fame {1930-71} | | Bibliography flat | http://www.swingmusic.net/ArmstrongLouis.html

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  2. ^ http://www.biography.com/people/louis-armstrong-9188912
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  8. ^ www.biography.com/people/louis_armstrong_9188912
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