Born: August 4, 1901
Died: July 6, 1971
Louis Armstrong, was born
in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 1901 (according to the most recent
research), in the poorest section of town. He overcame poverty to become
one of the most important people in the history of music.
Louis Armstrong was
called "the single most important figure in the history of jazz" by
Billboard magazine, a publication that tracks the recording industry. The
jazz magazine Down Beat agreed. Why is Armstrong so important in the
history of this American musical art form called jazz?
No one before Armstrong
had ever played the trumpet the way that he did. He was one of the first
great soloists of jazz music. The solos he played were as interesting and
innovative as any music written at the time. Rather than follow notes on a
page, he improvised, playing what was in his head instead. This type of
playing laid the foundation for all jazz to come.
Armstrong also pioneered
a type of singing. Do you know what it was called?
The new style of singing
that Louis Armstrong pioneered was called "scat." Scat singing is a lot
like improvising on a musical instrument. Instead of singing real words,
with scat one sings nonsense words to the melody. Armstrong became as
famous for his scat singing and gravelly voice as his trumpet playing. He
recorded many songs with another jazz great and scat singer, Ella
In addition to all of his
accomplishments, Louis Armstrong holds the record for being the oldest
artist ever to have a Number 1 record. He accomplished this when he was 63
years old with his version of the song "Hello, Dolly," from the musical of
the same name. What is even more extraordinary is that he reached Number 1
in 1964 by toppling the Beatles from the top of the charts! Louis
Armstrong had come a long way from his poor Louisiana beginnings.
Born: March 14, 1933
As a child, Quincy Jones
studied the trumpet and began playing and arranging music professionally as
a teenager when he formed a band with singer and pianist Ray Charles. At the
age of 16, Jones attended the Berklee College of Music on a scholarship. He
later became vice president of Mercury Records, one of the first black
Americans to hold a senior executive position at an American record company.
As an arranger and producer, Jones has worked with hundreds of popular
performers and has composed the music for more than 30 motion pictures. He
founded his own record company, Qwest Records. He produced the motion
picture “The Color Purple,” directed by Steven Spielberg. He began
publishing the rap magazine Vibe and a year later formed Qwest Broadcasting,
a minority-owned broadcast company. Jones has won Emmy and Academy Awards
for his musical scoring.
Born: Oct. 7, 1955
cellist, Yo-Yo Ma began studying the cello with his father at age four. As a
performer, he maintains a balance between his engagements as a soloist with
orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music. One of
his personal goals is to demonstrate how music is a means of communication
in both Western and non-Western cultures. To that end, he has immersed
himself in music as diverse as native Chinese music and the music of the
Kalahari bush people in Africa. In 1997, he received a Grammy Award as
Artist of the Year.