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Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) An Amazing American Life
Today, Americans who remember Louis Armstrong picture the smiling entertainer singing “Hello, Dolly” and other inoffensive hits. But behind his carefully crafted façade was a critic of the racial order, whose private life was most unconventional. Born into poverty, lacking a home, young Louis’s school was the streets of New Orleans and at the feet of jazz founders. As a young musician in the 1920s, he was a jazz innovator in bands led by others, then with his Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. In the 1930s, Armstrong broke color barriers with pop music standards on records, radio and in movies. After World War II, no longer a musical pioneer, he became a mainstream popular entertainer, a black man living uneasily in white dominated society. This is the astonishing story of a man with spectacular talent who achieved spectacular success. Michael Homel is Professor Emeritus of History at Eastern Michigan University. He specializes in 20th century American history and American urban history. He is the author of Unlocking City Hall: Exploring the History of Local Government and Politics, and other publications on urban politics and education.