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Louis Armstrong Bio Essay, Research Paper

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential artists of the century. Armstrong influenced trumpeters as well as all jazz music, and a wide range of popular music. He is best known for helping to pioneer a style known as swing, after which sprouted rhythm-and-blues (R&B) music. He established the expressive possibilities of the young art form of jazz and set fundamental standards for future artists.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Armstrong grew up in poverty and did not attend school beyond the fifth grade. His father abandoned his family after Armstrong was born. His mother in New Orleans raised him. As a youth, Armstrong joined a vocal quartet and sharpened his musical ear for harmony by singing with the group on the streets. Armstrong was given his first cornet while in a delinquency home. In 1917 Armstrong attracted the attention of cornetist King Oliver. Armstrong began a fruitful apprenticeship with the respected musician. In 1919 Armstrong played in with various bands and ensembles that performed on the riverboats of the Mississippi River. In 1922 Armstrong joined Oliver and his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago and made his first recording. Armstrong moved to New York City in 1924, where he joined a band.

From New York Armstrong s reputation grew until he became the most prominent leading soloist. In the 1930s and 1940s Armstrong led a big band, which toured in Europe. Armstrong used his international fame to pursue a career in filmmaking. He was the first African American to appear regularly in American feature films. Armstrong s early movies include Pennies From Heaven (1936), Cabin in the Sky (1943), and New Orleans (1947). In 1947, because of the decline of big-band music, Armstrong formed a septet called the All Stars. Armstrong led the All Stars until 1968. During that time Armstrong gained more fame by playing at large international venues. Finally, in 1956 Armstrong published his autobiography Satchmo.

Armstrong was one of the catalysts of the Cultural Revolution in the twenties. He helped break down artistic barriers and let Jazz flow into the popular culture. To this day we can still see the legacy Armstrong left behind. Armstrong managed to eliminate the race factor and communicate to all peoples through his music and talent.


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