Sample Music Essay Paper on LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong is one of the most influential figures of American jazz music. He is famous for not only his innovative ways of playing the cornet and trumpet, but also his singing ability. Armstrong had one of those powerful gravelly voices which attracted people to his music. However, Armstrong came to prominence during a period (20th century) when the issue of racism was a major problem in America. As a black American artist, he had different views regarding racism which made him have a good relationship with the public and government. Armstrong was socially accepted in areas within the American society where black people were highly restricted during his era. Armstrong great influence and achievement in jazz music came about because of his love and attitude towards music and strong perception that he had towards life that looked beyond the issue of racism in the society.

Stylistic Contributions to jazz music

Armstrong became famous in his last 24 years of life, a period when he transformed into a goodwill ambassador of jazz music. The history of jazz in America could have been different if Armstrong never rose up as a musician. It is because his powerful methods of playing the cornet and trumpet that made transformed jazz music placing it among the adventurous soloist performances. While working under Fletcher Henderson Orchestra which was among the top bands owned by African Americans of the time, Armstrong managed to express strong emotions while playing the trumpet and trombone[1]. With time, several jazz musicians who were also part of the orchestra copied Armstrong’s emotional expression in music. Many young horn men across the nation tried to outplay him in expressing emotions in jazz music, but his style was simply unique and hard to copy.

Armstrong famous ways of interpreting different songs using unique style of phrasing and vocal sound also influenced the music industry. His innovative ways of approaching songs became a common standard in jazz music as other jazz artists began to re-work on various features of music such as the melody. At the same time, Armstrong had a great influence on the vocal innovation in jazz music. He is regarded as the founder of the jazz vocal interpretation. Many jazz musicians decided to imitate his gravelly colored coloration voice which ended up becoming a musical archetype in the industry. He also influenced young white singers like Bing Crosby with his lower-register tone while singing. Armstrong also influenced other brass players and other instrumental musicians with the ways in which he performed.


Armstrong performed with several great musicians across America and beyond. In the year 1922, he performed along Oliver who was a leading cornetist and also the owner off the Creole Jazz Band. He managed to learn rare styles of performances as a solo artist through this band. Later, Armstrong managed to outshine Oliver and decided to go his way to better his life somewhere else.  In the year 1924, Armstrong joined the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra where managed to transform the direction which jazz took in America[2]. He also managed to play music alongside singer and trombonist Jack Teagarden who also influenced him as a jazz musician. In the year 1948, Armstrong played along Suzy Delair during a Nice Jazz Festival where he made his first public appearance[3]. In 1960s, while touring Africa where he visited Nigeria and Ghana, he managed to perform alongside Victor Olaiya who was also a jazz musician.

Musical recordings

Armstrong managed to make several musical recordings during his career as a musician. In the year 1954, he recorded a series of jazz collections titled “Loveless Love,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Aunt Hagar’s Blues” and “Yellow Dog Blues.” In the year 1964, he made his biggest-selling recording titled “Hello Dolly!” The song ended up being number 1 in the top 100 songs for a period of 22 weeks. In the year 1967, he again headed to the studio to record another single album titled “What a Wonderful World” which topped the United Kingdom and Austria chart list becoming the most played song.

Perception on race in the US

The emergence of Armstrong as a great musical genius in the U.S. was not only significant in regards to influencing jazz music, but also transforming the relationship between the black and white people. When he began his career, Civil Rights Movement was not yet implemented meaning that black Americans did not have full rights as the whites to own or visit some places. In this regard, in order to appeal to a wider audience, he decided to follow a specific doctrine as a way to protect his career. He operated within the hidden transcripts throughout his career whereby he never truly mentioned his support for a specific group of people in the country[4]. His main goal was to adhere to public appeasement without complaining about the black man suffering or white dominance. Armstrong instead used humor in his stage performance to touch on sensitive issues that involved race. He, therefore, managed to appeal to several white producers and also perform in places known to belong to whites only.

 He secured big gigs in white restaurants and special events because of being neutral towards the issue of racism in the country. At the same time, Armstrong managed to secure places in the movie, theatre and recording companies which belonged to white businessmen because he was being managed by a white. It was clear that Armstrong made a great achievement during the 20th century by winning the hearts of the white people. He was a clear sign to show that there was a possibility of the whites and blacks to reside together regardless of their racial and class difference. He also proved that any black American could be on the same level with the whites.

Relationship with public and government

The issue of racism affected the relationship that majority of the blacks such as Jim Crow had with the government. Though Armstrong acknowledged through his music regarding the government oppression of people like Crow, he did not pessimistically dwelt on the issue. It, therefore, made the government not to focus much on him as one of the rebellious black people in the country who were not afraid of them. Nonetheless, Armstrong also had some bad experience with the government. For instance, in the year 1931, he was arrested together with his black American band by the Memphis Police Force for breaking the law. He later went ahead and recorded a song dedicating it to the police force who took it positively regardless of the ridiculous title “I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead[5].”

In conclusion, Armstrong great influence and achievement in jazz music came about because of his love and attitude towards music and strong perception that he had towards life that looked beyond the issue of racism in the society. The views he held made him to be the first black entertainer to be accepted among the white community. It means that his color was secondary to the music he played and the audience that he attracted at a period of strong racial segregation.


Hersch, Charles. “Poisoning Their Coffee: Louics Armstrong and Civil Rights.” JSTOR 34, no.3 (2002): 371-92.

Schwartz, Ben. “What Louis Armstrong Really Thinks.” New Yorker. Last Modified February 25, 2014.

Yanow, Scott. “Louis Armstrong and All that Jazz.” Biography  Last Modified  July 6, 2016.

[1] Scott Yanow, “Louis Armstrong and All that Jazz,” Biography,  last modified July  6, 2016.

[2] Scott Yanow, “Louis Armstrong and All that Jazz,” Biography,  last modified July  6, 2016.

[3] Scott Yanow, “Louis Armstrong and All that Jazz,” Biography,  last modified July  6, 2016.

[4] Ben Schwartz, “What Louis Armstrong Really Thinks,” New Yorker, last modified February 25, 2014.

[5] Charles Hersch, “Poisoning Their Coffee: Louis Armstrong and Civil Rights,” JSTOR 34, no.3 (2002): 371-92.