Louis Armstrong’s Secret Daughter Sharon Preston-Folta Tells Her Story

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On the first day, in the first 15 minutes after I met Sharon Preston-Folta, we cried together. Her story, her testimony, simply moved me. Sharon, you see, is the secret daughter of dancer Lucille “Sweets” Preston and famed trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the innovator of one of America’s most innovative musical art forms—jazz. And for more than a half century, she was kept a secret. By her father, an international icon who did not, perhaps, want the world to know he’d fathered a child out of wedlock. By her mother, who insists, to this day, that her and Louis’s business was no one else’s concern. By Louis’s wife, who legally erased Sharon from existence when she claimed her husband never had children. She was kept secret, even, by herself.

“But you have the right,” I insisted in our first meeting, my eyes welling with tears. “You have the right to claim all of you. To know and say out loud whose blood runs through your veins.”

And she does. Which is why I agreed to write Sharon’s book, LITTLE SATCHMO: Living In the Shadow Of My Father, Louis Daniel Armstrong. This perfect little jewel of a book, available on Amazon.com and chronicled last week in the New York Times, the Times Picayune and a plethora of newspapers and online news sites around the world, tells the story that all-too-many of us are familiar with: a daughter, desperate for her father’s love, searches for him in her memories and through the stories of others. As she longs for his embrace, and cycles through a range of emotions, she recounts all she can about life with Louis Armstrong and especially without him—a life that, for a while, led her down a destructive but familiar path of promiscuity, teen pregnancy, single motherhood, poverty and, eventually, a life-altering charge to take control of her life and her legacy.

Read the full story: Denene Millner, MyBrownBaby.com

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