Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
Louis Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter, singer, and an influential figure in jazz music.
Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an “inventive” trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance.
With his instantly recognizable gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer, demonstrating great dexterity as an improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song for expressive purposes. He was also skilled at scat singing (vocalizing using sounds and syllables instead of actual lyrics).
Renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice almost as much as for his trumpet-playing, Armstrong’s influence extends well beyond jazz music, and by the end of his career in the 1960s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.
Armstrong was one of the first truly popular African-American entertainers to “cross over”, whose skin color was secondary to his music in an America that was severely racially divided.
He rarely publicly politicized his race, often to the dismay of fellow African-Americans, but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation during the Little Rock Crisis.
His artistry and personality allowed him socially acceptable access to the upper echelons of American society that were highly restricted for men of color.
Literature, radio, films and TV
Armstrong appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, usually playing a band leader or musician. His most familiar role was as the bandleader cum narrator in the 1956 musical, High Society, in which he sang the title song and performed a duet with Bing Crosby on “Now You Has Jazz”.
In 1947, he played himself in the movie New Orleans opposite Billie Holiday, which chronicled the demise of the Storyville district and the ensuing exodus of musicians from New Orleans to Chicago. In the 1959 film, The Five Pennies (the story of the cornetist Red Nichols), Armstrong played himself as well as singing and playing several classic numbers.
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