Happy 110th Birthday To Louis Armstrong

08/04/2011
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(Gibson) Before he had an airport named after him, before he was on a postage stamp, before he became a universally celebrated star, before he recorded dozens of hits, before he changed the course of jazz and popular music, before he ever picked up a trumpet or a cornet, Louis Armstrong had a hard-scrabble upbringing in his beloved hometown of New Orleans.

Throughout his life, Armstrong would claim he was born on July 4 but baptismal records discovered in the 1980s proved he was off by one year and one month. The jazz pioneer and music legend was born on this day (August 4) in 1901 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to a very poor family. He was the grandson of people who had been slaves in the American South.

He grew up in a poverty-stricken area of Uptown, often called "Back of Town." Not long after Louis was born, his father, William Armstrong, left his mother for another woman. A few years later, his mother Mary "Maryann" Albert, entrusted Louis and his younger half-sister Beatrice to their grandmother, Josephine Armstrong. By the time he was 5, he was back living with his mother and her relatives, and he only saw his father when he was in New Orleans parades. more on this story

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