People we love: Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong, August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971

American jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong was born on this day in 1901.

Louis Armstrong was a major influence in jazz music. But as a trumpeter and musician he was also recognized as amjory influence on popular music in general. He was one of the first African-Americans whose skin-color became secondary to his music.

Armstrong didn’t politicize his race, but he did take a public stand against racism during the Little Rock Crisis in 1957.

The grandson of slaves, Armstrong grew up in poverty in New Orleans. He played in dance halls in New Orleans and later played on riverboats on the Mississippi river. He later worked in Chicago and New York settling in Queens in the 1940s. During the next 30 years, he played more than 300 gigs a year.

Amstrong died in his sleep from a heart attack on July 6, 1971. He was 69.

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