Louis Armstrong During The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was an African American culture during the 1920s. It embraced music, theatrical and visual arts. The artist of this time wanted to avoid the moral values that brought shame about their ethnicity, seen by the whites. This included the movement of the Great Migration of African Americans from rural South to cities in the North. African Americans wanted to build a new setting for themselves in a public life as well as political and economical to create a black urban culture.

Louis Armstrong was an African American musician who had a huge impact on jazz and is one of the most significant artist during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a trumpet player, singer, and an entertainer. His career started in his youth by playing in many different bands. By 1929, he became famous and was a huge influence throughout the music world.

Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. When he was born, his father William Armstrong abandoned him and his family while his mother Mayann worked as a part time prostitute to provide for the family. His grandmother raised him in a dangerous neighborhood called “The Battlefield”. During his childhood he didn’t get much education. He only had up until 5th grade education. He had to dropout of school early in order to go to work. He sang in the streets for money and worked for a jewish family. As he got older, he got interested in music. He played in many bands as well as moved around numerous times. He learned many other musicians such as Buddy Petit, Kid Ory, and Joe Oliver. He decided to moved to Chicago in 1922 to join his advisor Oliver’s Creole Jazz band. In 1924, he left Oliver to join Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra for a better profession. Then he moved to Los Angeles in 1930 to play at the New Cotton Club.

He had many major accomplishments throughout his career. In 1936, he got into films. He played a band leader in the motion picture ‘Pennies from Heaven’. Then he became the first African American to be featured in a major Hollywood movie. He is also the first African American jazz player to be on the cover of Life magazine. Not only was he the first African American to be featured in a Hollywood movie and to be on the cover of a Life magazine, but his most famous work was throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He released hits such as ‘Blueberry Hill’, ‘That Lucky Old Sun’, ‘La Vie en Rose’ and ‘I Get Ideas’. His fame increased and went on world tours that sold out. He performed in Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 1954, he released one of his masterpieces, ‘Louis Armstrong Plays with Handy’. In 1967, his single ‘Wonderful World’ was number one in Austria and the UK. His single reached top ten in Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, and Norway. He got awarded Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1972 by the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

In his life he had been faced with challenges. Challenges including Satchmo’s Syndrome from playing with a lot of force that split his lip wide open and suffered from painful scar tissue. He dealt with this hardship on his own. He removed the calluses himself using a razor blade but in the long run, he struggled to hit high notes.

Through the hardship, that didn't stop him from playing and making impact on future generations. Through his playing of the trumpet, it became a solo instrument in jazz used today. Jazz has been transformed to a soloist art form through his influence. He’s also influenced people in today’s generation. He influenced someone like John Birks Gillespie. Gillespie explained that Armstrong’s playing is the base of his own music. In the summer of 2002, in the memory of the centennial of Armstrong’s birth, New Orleans main airport was renamed Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans International Airport.

Louis Armstrong was a famous jazz musician who has impacted many people in the music world. Even through the hardships with family, school, and problems with his lips, he still managed to make many accomplishments. He has made top hits with some of his released music. He’s even influenced the way people see jazz and influenced other musicians. He is one of the most recognized musicians still today.

31 October 2020
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