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.
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.
Delanie 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.