Today, 110 years ago, Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in New Orleans. His childhood was rough – he grew up in poverty, and his father deserted the family early on for another woman. Despite living in poverty, and occasionally getting into trouble, he also drew inspiration from the bands and artist he saw perform. Over time, he started performing in and around New Orleans, and after finally moving to Chicago, his career took off.
Over the course of the career he didn’t just perform with bands, on stage, he also performed on the radio and in movies. He played the cornet and trumpet, and he sang. He helped shape jazz and was an amazing improviser. He bridged the gap between black and white – white audiences loved him, and even though he didn’t take a public stand, he was supportive of the civil rights movement. His nickname, Satchmo, was an abbreviation of Satchelmouth, because of the size of his mouth.
You can’t help but think of his amazing performances, with that gravelly voice. When I think of him, I also think of that great smile of his that transformed his entire face. He had an incredible expressive face – many an actor could take lessons from him. (Especially Bollywood actors whose facial expressions are so overdramatic). He was a person who could spread joy with his singing and playing. So here are two of my favorite songs of his: “As time goes by” (Play it again, Sam) and of course, “What a wonderful world.”