I.S. 227 Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential figures in jazz, known for both his trumpet improvisations and his distinctive singing voice. He also broke down numerous racial divides in the music and entertainment worlds, becoming the first Black performer to get featured billing in a major Hollywood film ("Pennies From Heaven," 1936) and the first Black host of a national radio show (Fleischmann's Yeast Show, 1937).

Born in New Orleans in 1901, Armstrong grew up impoverished in a racially segregated city. He dropped out of school in fifth grade to work, and developed a close relationship with a local Jewish family that gave him odd jobs and nurtured his love of music. By the age of 11, Armstrong wound up in the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, where he joined the band and studied the cornet in earnest. Upon his release from the home in 1914, he began working as a musician on Mississippi riverboats and other local venues. His reputation skyrocketed, and by the early 1920s he moved north, performing and recording with jazz bands in Chicago and New York.

Throughout the 1920s and '30s, Armstrong made dozens of records with his own and many other ensembles, toured extensively, and began performing in Broadway productions and movies. After some business and health setbacks, and in response to changing musical tastes, Armstrong scaled his group down to a six-piece combo in the 1940s and resumed touring internationally, recording albums and appearing in movies. Some of his biggest popular hits came in the later years of his career, including "Hello Dolly" (1964) and "What A Wonderful World" (1967). His grueling schedule took its toll on his heart and kidneys and in 1968 he was forced to take time off to recuperate, but he began performing again in 1970. Armstrong died in his sleep in July 1971, just a few months after his final engagement at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

Armstrong and his fourth wife, Lucille Wilson, purchased their home in Corona in 1943, shortly after they were married, and lived there for the remainder of their lives. I.S. 227, a public middle school serving grades 5 through 8, is located approximately one mile from their home, which is now the Louis Armstrong House Museum, offering public tours, concerts and educational programs.


Louis Armstrong House Museum, accessed October 1, 2022, https://www.louisarmstronghouse.org/

"Louis Armstrong," Biography.com, accessed October 1, 2022, https://www.biography.com/musician/louis-armstrong