Louis Daniel Armstrong

Essay by RNunes9864University, Bachelor'sA+, February 2006

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When the argument of selecting one of the greatest and most influential musicians of all time is presented, many names can be pondered. In today's era of Ipods, ring tones, and other forms of the modern digital times we have come to realize, quite possibly the true definition of an influential musical icon may have been forgotten. From the decades that have passed, one individual seems to invoke passionate and thoughtful discussions among the historians of music, Louis Daniel Armstrong. Armstrong's charismatic personality and natural talent were the driving force behind his distinguished career as a jazz musician. Armstrong blowing forcefully, yet with a touch of grace into his trumpet, handkerchief in hand, is a world renowned image that harkens back to the days of big bands, swing music, and the simple life. Louis Armstrong, or Satchmo, as he was affectionately known as, lived an extravagant life in which he contributed and influenced not only to jazz, but all types of the music that would follow in the wake of his horn.

Armstrong's actual birth date is still not exactly known, many historians agree it was sometime during the turn of the century. Most reference material recognize August 4, 1901, while Armstrong himself used July 4, 1901. While his birth date is somewhat of an enigma, the circumstances in which he was born into were not, poverty and oppression were the standards of the time for the majority of African Americans. Armstrong grew up without much assistance from his father, Willie Armstrong, who had abandoned Louis' mother Mayann immediately after Louis was born. His father contributed nothing to the family and left them to struggle. His mother had few employment opportunities and even with multiple jobs the family's economic position did not improve. Armstrong's youth was spent in a...