The Founding Father of Jazz: Louis Armstrong

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 354
  • Published : November 24, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Foundations of the Founding Father of Jazz: Louis Armstrong
Being heard in movies, the radio, television, and even elevators, jazz music has made its mark in just about every single location of the world. As popular as jazz is around the world, its original roots and foundations in the African-American culture are often forgotten. One of the most influential jazz musicians, Louis Armstrong, also known as Satchmo or Pops, is considered to be among the founding fathers of jazz music. His career launched in the early 1900s, where his legacy would form early to create a sound foundation for early jazz music that was quite exceptional. Louis Armstrong was such an essential part of the jazz age during the 1920’s that his music created a firm foundation, paving the way for Jazz musicians everywhere. His influential singing, along with his great dexterity, intricate lyrics, and profound melodies make it easy for him to claim his title as “The Founding Father of Jazz.”

Taking his first breath in the world on August 4, 1901, Louis Armstrong was born to William and Mary “Mayanne” Albert Armstrong in the “Battlefield” of New, Orleans, Louisiana – one of the poorest areas of town (Old 15). Shortly after his birth, he was abandoned by his father, a factory worker, to be left with his mother, struggling to make ends meet (Old 16). Armstrong’s childhood was rather tough considering the fact that he had been abandoned by his father. Also, as times worsened, he was abandoned by his mother as she turned to prostitution to earn additional cash. He and his younger sister, Beatrice Armstrong Collins, were often left in the care of his maternal grandmother, Josephine Armstrong and their Uncle Isaac (Old 16). At age five, he moved back to live with his mother and relatives and very rarely saw his father. Armstrong had much respect for his mother; he wrote, “She held up her head at all times…What she didn’t have, she did without.” (Old 22) As a youngster, Armstrong was often seen singing in the streets with his friends to earn money. He was a very smart boy, but he often made the wrong decisions. He skipped from kindergarten into the second grade and grew up in a rough area where he would learn to shoot dice for pennies and play blackjack (Old 23). He attended the Fisk School for Boys in 1906 where he was first exposed to a large variety of music and brought in extra money as a paperboy, selling food to restaurants, and hauling coal to Storyville. However, he was not able to help his mother from turning to prostitution. Often times, young Armstrong explored local dance halls where he would soak in various aspects to the music business, including the music itself, performances, and dancing. The infamous Storyville is where Armstrong often listened to bands and musicians which included Joe “King” Oliver and other famous vocalists (Old 36). A fast forward to the year of 1912 brings us to the beginnings of Armstrong’s involvement in instrumental music. In this very year, he dropped out of the Fisk School for boys and began to make a living by singing on the streets of New Orleans with a quartet group. During the time Armstrong performed with the quartet, Joe “King” Oliver taught him how to play the cornet. Because Armstrong did not have much family support, he was often left to his lonesome. However, a very kind Lithuanian-Jewish family, the Karnofskys, who gave him odd jobs from time to time took him in and treated him as their own. Eventually, the Karnofskys loaned him money for his first very own cornet, which would give him one of the necessary tools needed to be a successful musician – an instrument (Morgenstern 100). Although Armstrong’s positive image and career outlook began to develop in a great way that soon took a change in 1914 when he was sent to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, a delinquency home (Old 27). During that time, he was most known for his arrest due to firing his stepfather’s pistol into the air at a New Year’s Eve...
tracking img