Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful World

By Delanie Gavan, Ferris State University student

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of blog posts for GRandJazzFest written by Ferris State University public relations students. Thank you, Ferris, for helping to build awareness of jazz, the great American music art form! Read about the author at the end of this post.

Louis-ArmstrongAmbassador Satch? Dipper? Pops? Those names don’t ring a bell? Well you might not know those names, but I’m sure you know Louis Armstrong!

He really is one of the greatest, most influential jazz musicians of all time. Armstrong was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans. He influenced many musicians with his unique, scat-singing style and his bold trumpet playing.

Armstrong was born in New Orleans on August 4, 1901. He had a rough childhood growing up. His father abandoned his family when he was young and he quit school in fifth grade to start working odd jobs. He worked for a Jewish family who encouraged him to sing. He was then sent to a home for boys where he fell in love with music and began working towards a life of music making.

In 1919, Armstrong spent his summers playing on riverboats. He began fine-tuning his music reading skills then too.

He moved to Chicago in 1922 when he was asked to play King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. In 1924 he moved to New York City and introduced sing music to Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra. This band was the first jazz big band.

Armstrong changed jazz. He focused more on solos rather than collective, group improve. In 1926, Armstrong sang on a recording and made scat singing popular. Scat singing is vocal improv with wordless vocables and nonsense syllables.

Armstrong was featured in movies, radio shows, and toured around the world for many years. He was still popular in 1963, but had not made a record in some time. He recorded a song for the Broadway show, Hello, Dolly! in May of 1964. It knocked The Beatles out of the number one spot on the carts and made Armstrong popular with a new, young audience. He then continued to tour and make successful records.

Armstrong returned to his home in Queens, New York, in May 1971 where he passed away in his sleep. Although Armstrong is no longer with us, he still influences musicians all over the world. His home in Queens is now a National historic landmark and museum. Thousands of people from all over the world visit his home every year to see where one of the most important musical figures once lived.


DelanieDelanie Gavan is a junior in the Music Industry Management program at Ferris State University. She is a part of Music Industry Management Association (MIMA), which is the organization affiliated with her major. While at Ferris State, Delanie had helped produce five full-scale concerts. Delanie will also be receiving her certificate in Public Relations. Delanie is graduating in spring 2013.





GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – March 22, 2013 – GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation announces a special opportunity for funding in collaboration with the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority (DDA): For every $4 that is raised for the festival, the DDA has offered a $1 match, for up to $20,000 in grant funding.

“We’re happy that the DDA has proposed this challenge grant to support GRandJazzFest in downtown Grand Rapids – to help us provide this FREE community festival that, due to the positive response in 2012, we’ve expanded to two days,” GRandJazzFest Founder Audrey Sundstrom said.

This year’s festival will be held at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids on Saturday, Aug. 17, and Sunday, Aug. 18, and will offer 10 jazz bands and performers of diverse genres, all for FREE to the concert-going public. The family-friendly festival will encourage attendees to enjoy the restaurants, pubs and retail businesses in the area of Rosa Parks Circle. Expanding to two days will bring in more out-of-town visitors and boost hotel occupancies.

“The DDA is committed to exploring new ideas that can advance the Grand Rapids community, and we are pleased to partner in the funding for GRandJazzFest’s second annual event,” said Kris Larson, DDA’s executive director. “It’s a great event for the city, and we heard from stakeholders that the 2012 event provided significant economic impact for downtown.”

The $10,000 grant that the DDA approved last year for the inaugural GRandJazzFest helped to make Grand Rapids’ and West Michigan’s only jazz festival hugely successful and free for 4,000 people of all ethnicities, ages and socioeconomic levels. Downtown businesses reported that the day of the festival was among their best in sales for the summer. Kilwins reported the second busiest day since they opened in May 2012. Tre Cugini’s owner likened the festival to a mini-ArtPrize. A representative of The Dog Pit said the popular eatery did triple the business of a normal Saturday.

“The new DDA challenge grant and sponsorships such as those from our presenting sponsor DTE Energy Foundation and from the City of Grand Rapids have a significant impact on encouraging other sponsors to support GRandJazzFest. This DDA opportunity is an endorsement as we seek an even broader base of sponsors,” Sundstrom said.

On Jan. 23, Grand Rapids city commissioners approved GRandJazzFest as one of 24 events it will co-sponsor in 2013, a distinction only given to events that have proven to be successful and enrich the community.

In addition to the DDA challenge grant, the DTE Energy Foundation and the City of Grand Rapids, sponsors and collaborators for the 2013 event to date include the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Gilmore Collection, GR and Jazz, Ellis Parking, Fifth Third Bank, Hilger Hammond, IntentPR, Meijer, Mike July Web Design, San Chez Bistro and Café, The Wege Foundation, Saint Mary’s Health Care, Grand Rapids Community College, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority and Founders Bank & Trust.

“We are so grateful to the DDA and all of our sponsors so far for their support!” Sundstrom said. “We’re putting the word out to encourage other businesses, organizations and individuals to support this great community event!”

GRandJazzFest is founded and produced by GR and Jazz, a volunteer based 501(c)(3). All GRandJazzFest sponsorships are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

More information on GRandJazzFest – including sponsorship/volunteer opportunities – can be found atwww.grandjazzfest.org.


About GRandJazzFest

GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation is a community event of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization “GR and Jazz” founded in 2012, with the purpose of promoting and bringing awareness of jazz and related arts to new and diverse audiences through educational programs and community events. GRandJazzFest 2013 is a FREE weekend-long event that runs Saturday, Aug. 17, from noon until 10 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 18, from noon p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring jazz artists who are primarily Michigan-based. GRandJazzFest brings together notable jazz performers as well as highlights up-and-coming artists for diverse audiences. GRandJazzFest is being held at Rosa Parks Circle, a central location in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, where attendees can enjoy music, support local businesses and visit other Grand Rapids attractions. The festival is FREE. Sponsors and collaborators to date include DTE Energy Foundation, GR and Jazz, the City of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, Experience Grand Rapids, West Michigan Jazz Society, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Ellis Parking, Ferris State University, Fifth Third Bank, Founders Bank & Trust, Gilmore Collection, Grand Rapids Community College, Hilger Hammond, IntentPR, Meijer, Mike July Web Design, San Chez Bistro and Café, Saint Mary’s Health Care, Steelcase and The Wege Foundation. More information at www.grandjazzfest.org. Find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GRandJazzFest and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/grandjazzfest.

Media Contact:
Mike Frost
Twitter: @grandjazzfest

Be In The Know

Enter your email address to receive event updates