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Sun, 08.04.1901

Louis Armstrong, Black America’s gift to the world

LouisArmstrong

*This date in 1901, marks the birth of Louis Armstrong. He was an African American jazz, cornet, and trumpet player, singer, band leader, and entertainer.

Armstrong became one of the most innovative and influential musicians of the 20th century, and one of the most beloved entertainers in the world. Born Louis Daniel Armstrong in 1901 he was raised by his mother in the urban slums of New Orleans. As a youth, he was locked up for delinquency at the Colored Waifs' home in New Orleans, where he was given a cornet to play in the home's brass band. In 1922 Armstrong joined “Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band” in Chicago and made his first recordings with Oliver the following year.

After 1925 Armstrong began leading his own band and also recorded with some of the most renowned blues singers of the time, including American singer Bessie Smith. From 1925 to 1928, he led a recording group called the “Hot Fives“(later known as the Hot Sevens.) Their recordings are considered some of the most seminal and enduring pieces in the history of jazz. In the 1930s and 1940s Armstrong led a big band, toured Europe on several occasions, and increasingly pursued a career as a popular entertainer in motion pictures. In 1947, Armstrong formed a septet called the All Stars.

This band, which Armstrong led until 1968, became largely a vehicle for his own playing and singing. He became an unofficial musical ambassador from the United States, performing all over the world. In 1964 his recording of "Hello Dolly" became the number-one song on the Billboard magazine popular-record charts, replacing "I Want to Hold Your Hand," by the British rock-music group The Beatles. That same year Armstrong won a Grammy Award for "Hello Dolly. “

Louis Armstrong died in 1971. In 1996 Queens College announced plans to turn Armstrong's longtime home in the Queens borough of New York City into a museum in his honor. Armstrong's archives are preserved at Queens College.

Reference:
Africana The Encyclopedia of the African and
African American Experience
Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Copyright 1999
ISBN 0-465-0071-1

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