Louis Armstrong, Nation’s 1st Black Entertainment Superstar, Added to Apollo’s Walk of Fame

Louis ArmstrongJazz king Louis Armstrong, perhaps the nation’s first major Black entertainment superstar, is being inducted into the Apollo Theater’s Walk of Fame.

Armstrong will join the likes of James Brown, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Patti Labelle to the walk on 125th St. in front of the Harlem Theatre at a ceremony today.

“We are excited to celebrate the Apollo’s jazz legacy, as well as the birthplace of this genre, by inducting Louis Armstrong into the Walk of Fame and presenting performances by some of the best jazz musicians performing today during the New Orleans to Harlem Jazz Weekend,” Apollo executive producer Mikki Shepard told the New York Daily News.

“From Ella Fitzgerald to Duke Ellington to Louis Armstrong, the Apollo’s lauded lineage has earned it the distinction of being one of Harlem’s original jazz shrines,” said Shepard.

The event will be the first of the Apollo’s New Orleans to Harlem Jazz Weekend, which will include a concert featuring Irvin Mayfield Jr. and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

Nicknamed “Satchmo,” “Pops” and  “Ambassador Satch,” Armstrong was known for his charismatic stage presence and trumpet style in the 1920s and beyond. Born in New Orleans in 1901, he rose above the poverty that he was born into. Armstrong grew up in a section of New Orleans so poor and crime ridden it was nicknamed “the battle field.”

His musical start didn’t come from the brightest of situations. On New Year’s Eve in 1912, Armstrong  was arrested for firing his stepfather’s gun. After his arrest he was sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, where he first received musical training, and from there his love of music grew. He went on to create some of the best known jazz music in the world, including songs like “What a Wonderful World,” Star Dust” and “La Via En Rose.”

Armstrong died at his home in Queens, New York, on July 6, 1971.

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