This post is overdue by a few weeks (it’s July 22nd, even though I’m dating it the 4th) but it’s something I wanted to make sure I remembered and could share with anyone interested.
It’s said that Jazz was born in America and is enjoyed worldwide, so it was very befitting that the father of jazz, Louis Armstrong, happened to be born on this day – or so that’s what most people believe. From a child, Louis Armstrong had been told by his mother that his birthday was the same day as the country he had been born in. It’s the date associated with his social security number as well as his draft card and other government-issues documents. It wasn’t until scholars found his baptismal papers that it was confirmed that Louis Armstrong was in fact born on August 4, 1901.
That didn’t stop the Louis Armstrong House Museum (LAHM) from celebrating his birthday in full force on July 4, 2013, however. The LAHM is an organization run by Queens College, CUNY, built to preserve the legacy of Louis Armstrong and the home he shared with his wife Lucille in Corona, Queens, where he spent the last 30 years of his life up until his death on July 6, 1971 just a month shy of his (real) 71st birthday.
The celebration started with a private complimentary luncheon for members and then followed with a concert from the band Bria’s Hot Five which was open to everyone who purchased a ticket. Being a member of the LAHM, but never having visited the house, I was able get access to the backyard (you need to sign up for a tour to see the inside of house) before most were – though it turns out almost everyone who attended has been to the house before. The backyard, which is an entire lot onto itself, had what could be described as a parasol of intertwined branches and leaves. The high trees gave an abundance of shade, which made it more comfortable on such a hot day, though there was unshaded area where you could sit on benches or admire the small pond. There was also a nice outdoor bar, where they served members some southern fixins like collard greens, mac & cheese, rice & beans and corn bread. Not to mention the delicious birthday cake that everyone got a piece of after the show. It was certainly a great day and a great way to celebrate The 4th of July.
PS: If you bring your mouthpiece to the LAHM archives at Queens College, you’ll get the opportunity to play one of Louis’ actual trumpets.