Louis Armstrong was the famous American jazz trumpeter, vocalist, bandleader, comedian and film star. Moreover, he made a great impact on the development of jazz music and contributed to its popularization throughout the world in particular many of his songs are still known and loved. Some of Armstrong’s best-known compositions are “Star Dust”, “What a Wonderful World”, and “La Vie En Rose”. Although Armstrong performed before white audience as well as people of color, he remained an African American musician who condemned the actions of the US government directed against the country’s black population. Thus, Louis Armstrong was an excellent musician who contributed to the development of jazz music and supported the African Americans in their Civil Rights Movement.
Louis Armstrong was born on the 4th of August,1901, in New Orleans (Louisiana). Apart from his official name, he had different nicknames, for example ’Pops’, ’Satchmo’, and ’Ambassador Satch’. Moreover, Armstrong was an all-star virtuoso who become famous in 1920s. The musician had an impact on the innumerable amount of musicians by his unique vocals and daring style of playing the trumpet. The musician had an extraordinary charisma that impressed the musician’s colleagues and, by large, contemporaries.
Louis Armstrong had a rather difficult childhood. He was born in such a poor district of New Orleans called the Battlefield. His father left the family after the boy’s birth, and Armstrong’s mother started to work as a prostitute leaving him in the care of his grandmother. Thus, all these unfavorable living conditions forced Louis to “leave school in the fifth grade to begin working”. Thus, the child started to deliver coal and to collect rubbish working for a Jewish family named the Karnofskys. In 1912, on the New Year’s eve, young Armstrong fired his stepfather’s gun and this event led to his arrest. While at the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, to which he had been sent after the apprehension, the would-be musician got the first musical instruction on playing a musical instrument, specifically, cornet. Furthermore, even though Armstrong had to work hard hauling coal to the different districts of the city or selling correspondence, the young man acquired a reputation of an excellent blues player at around that time. In addition, Joe “King” Oliver, a prominent local cornetist, taught Louis to play the horn showing him different techniques and sometimes asking Armstrong to lend his talent.
In 1918, being rather young, Louis Armstrong decided to marry a prostitute, Daisy Parker. Except marriage, the young musician commenced stormy union characterized by violence acts and other arguments. Moreover, this period of Armstrong’s life was marked by the adoption of three-year-old boy named Clarence who was his deceased cousin’s son. In spite of the fact that this boy suffered from mental disorder caused by a childhood head injury, Louis care about him all his life.
Nevertheless, Armstrong’s reputation continued to grow. In 1918, the musician “replaced Oliver in Kid Ory’s band, then the most popular band in New Orleans”. Moreover, the performer gave up his various jobs and started his concert activity playing various musical pieces on a cornet. Additionally, he played at special bars called “honky-tonks” that were typically played host to musical acts. In 1919, Louis started to play on riverboats with Fate Marable’s band improving his skills. Moreover, the young musician had his first meetings with such famous jazz legends as Jack Teagarden and Bix Beiderbecke.
In 1922, Louis Armstrong got King Oliver’s invitation to join his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago as a second cornet player. His and Oliver’s bright two-cornet breaks in addition to Armstrong’s remarkably fiery performance resulted in his “first recordings with Oliver on April 5, 1923; that day, he earned his first known recorded solo on Chimes Blues”.
In 1924, Armstrong married Lillian Hardin, who was the band’s pianist. This woman influenced his decision to leave Oliver and join the Orchestra of Fletcher Henderson, one of the most famous African-American dance bands based in New York. Being in this dance band, Armstrong managed to artistically reconsider the concept of swing music by his range of solos. Moreover, Henderson and Don Redman started to implement swinging vocabulary introduced by Armstrong into the band arrangements, which has led to in the transformation of this band into “the first jazz big band” ever. Louis made many various records playing his inspirational jazz with such famous musicians as Sidney Bechet and Bessie Smith.
In 1925, Armstrong and his wife went to Chicago and began playing at the famous Dreamland Café. Supported by OKeh Records studio, Luis made his first records called Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five and later the Hot Seven. Thus, from that moment on and through the year 1928, the famous musician created the most influential and important 60 compositions in jazz history transforming ensemble music of this style into a solo art. Furthermore, Armstrong began to practice “scat singing”, the distinctive feature of which is singing without words and which complemented harmoniously his popular vocal style called ‘Heebie Jeebies’.
In 1926, Armstrong had his performances at the Vendome Theater and he started to play the trumpet at around the same time. In the next ten years, the popularity of Armstrong was growing. He and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines created virtuoso duets West End Blues and Weather Bird. Moreover, in 1929, OKeh granted Armstrong their permission to record such popular songs as “Body and Soul”, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, and “Star Dust”. Furthermore, these songs had their significant impact on future art of such singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Billie Holiday. In 1932, Armstrong started to film and had his first tours to England and Europe in 1933.
Armstrong had an extraordinary success. He appeared in many movies, recorded such songs as “Swing That Music”, “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue”, “Jubilee”, “Blueberry Hill”, “La Vie En Rose”, “I Get Ideas”, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On”, “Mack the Knife” and others. He divorced and married Alpha Smith, from whom he separated and later remarried one last time. His last wife was Lucille Wilson. In the 1940s, Armstrong formed a band called the All Stars that featured such famous musicians as Billy Kyle, Sid Catlett, Jack Teagarden, Tyree Glenn, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Barney Bigard, and others. Moreover, he continued to perform all over the world.
Each year the Civil Rights struggle was rising and many marches, speeches and protests took place all across the USA. Although some black musicians and activists criticized Armstrong for his performances played for white audiences, they gave him a credit for staying a “man with a distinctly black point of view” He could condemn President Eisenhower’s actions, specifically, rejecting the nine black students’ permission to attend high school in Arkansas. Armstrong said, “My people – the Negros’s – are not looking for anything – we just want a square shake” Moreover, when the President chose to change his decision on the said matter, Armstrong called him to express his gratitude. Such actions and many other pointed to Armstrong’s fierce disapproval of institutional racism.
In 1959, Armstrong still remained popular. However, in 1959, during his tour in Italy, he got a heart attack. It did not stop the musician and in 1967, he created his famous ballad, What a Wonderful World. Although his kidney and heart problems caused the termination of concert activity in 1969, the musician resumed performing around the world in 1970. Nevertheless, a heart attack stopped him again. Armstrong dies of a heart attack on the 6th of July, 1971, in Queens (New York).
In conclusion, Louis Armstrong was a famous person in the world of jazz music i who introduced many different novelties. Moreover, he changed the approach to this African American music style made it popular with white population as well. However, he did not forget his background and always he remembered about the cause of his people. Armstrong tried to change the attitude to black people influencing the state and appealing to public figures. Louis Armstrong was a great artist and his songs are still famous and loved.