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"What A Wonderful World": Louis Armstrong's Career Highlights

What A Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong Career
August 4, 2020 - 15:26 / Cynthia Springer

"What a Wonderful World" singer Louis Armstrong was one of the most iconic musicians to have ever lived and is still regarded so to this day. Also known as "Satchmo", Armstrong's career spanned over five decades! Not only did he famously play the trumpet, but he was also a known actor and composer! Find out more on "What a Wonderful World" singer Louis Armstrong's biggest career highlights...

"What a Wonderful World" singer Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Louis Daniel Armstrong grew up in poverty but was able to attend the Fisk School for Boys, a school that allowed black children to study in times of racial segregation. He was then raised by The Karnoffskys, who took him in and even purchased Armstrong's first cornet as his interest in jazz music grew and grew. 

"What A Wonderful World" Louis Armstrong: Career beginnings

Throughout the mid-1900s, "What a Wonderful World" singer Louis Armstrong was in and out of the music scene, as his life became tumultuous with an unstable family and even some jail time. However, it was in the 1920s, when Armstrong traveled and performed more, creating his own style in the ever-present jazz genre. In fact, at this point in his career, he had his own apartment in Chicago and lived quite luxuriously! 

Armstrong was apart of multiple musical groups in the '20s, including the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra and The Hot Five, all of which he was able to experiment with the trumpet and trombone. He was also a massive contribution to the Harlem Renaissance during this era. 

Louis Armstrong circa 1945

By 1929, Armstrong had moved to New York and started playing at various nightclubs, where he began his singing career in his famous "scat" style. As the Great Depression hit, he then moved to Los Angeles a year later, in which Hollywood actors and socialites would watch him perform. He, himself, landed his first acting role in the 1931 movie Ex-Flame.

One of his next films would be in the 1936 movie Pennies from Heaven, starring alongside Bing Crosby. After moving across the States, and even Europe, for a majority of his life, he eventually settled in Queens, New York in 1943 with his fourth wife, Lucille. 

Louis Armstrong: Jazz legend 

From the 1940s onwards, Armstrong played more than 300 performances. The developments of television and radio only furthered his musical career. In 1965, he received his first Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance for "Hello, Dolly!"

Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong on set of High Society

In 1972, Armstrong was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The Grammy's have also inducted several of his songs into the Grammy Hall of Fame, including, but not limited to: 

  • "St. Louis Blues" (1925)
  • "Heebie Jeebies" (1926)
  • "West End Blues" (1928)
  • "Mack the Knife" (1955)
  • "What a Wonderful World" (1967)

Through his instrumental, singing, and acting talents, Armstrong is considered to be one of the world's greatest musicians of all time. He paved the way for other prominent jazz musicians, including Sonny Rollins and Miles Davis. 

 Louis Armstrong in August 1961

Louis Armstrong passed away in his sleep on July 6, 1971, due to a heart attack, just shy of his 70th birthday. Yet, his legacy and his music will continue to live on. "What a Wonderful World" singer Louis Armstrong's eclectic sounds have influenced a vast range of music that we hear and know today!