Who revolutionized jazz music and created some of the most well-known songs in history? Louis Armstrong, that's who. Though Armstrong passed away 45 years ago, his legacy is just as prevalent as ever.
Armstrong was born in an impoverished neighborhood in New Orleans on August 4th, 1901. His father had abandoned him at a young age, so he and his mother were alone and penniless. As a child, he sang in various vocal groups on the street to help make money for his small family.
On New Year's Eve of 1912, however, the then 11-year-old Armstrong fired a pistol in celebration and was immediately arrested. The court decided that his mother wasn’t capable of taking care of him, so he was placed in an orphanage.
But it was not all bad for little Armstrong. The depressing mood in the orphanage inspired him to play the cornet, an instrument similar to the trumpet. When he left the orphanage at age 18, he was already becoming a promising musician, and he continued to work hard to improve. Armstrong had a smooth tone and a hoarse, but exciting, voice. It was around this time that he began playing the trumpet, too.
Over the years that followed, Armstrong had several bands and a choir. He created many well known songs such as “Hello Dolly” and the ever popular “What a Wonderful World,” which was featured in the animated film Madagascar. He was so influential, in fact, that he helped define the sound of the trumpet.
Armstrong had his own style when it came to jazz, and he created songs that painted a picture. He emphasized solos in jazz, and he used a method called scatting in some of his music. Scatting is essentially singing gibberish to a melody. Armstrong had a large following and was very inspiring to other musicians such as Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, all of whom were very successful in their music careers.
Armstrong died on July 6th, 1971, but his music still lives on today.