Corona’s Louis Armstrong House Museum now has a digital archive that will having fans of the jazz legend thinking to themselves, “What a wonderful world!”
Never-before-seen artifacts are available to Satchmo fans through the museum’s new digitized collection, which went live on their website on Nov. 16.
Thousands of photos, letters, newspaper clippings, personal papers, videos, scrapbooks and sheet music of Armstrong and his entourage paint a fuller picture of the legendary musician, who grew up impoverished in New Orleans, battled racism during his career and who meticulously studied his self-image as a celebrity.
Armstrong lived the last 25 years of his life at the Corona home where the museum is located: 34-56 107th St.
“If there was one man that defined the 20th century it was Louis Armstrong,” said director of research collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Armstrong scholar Ricky Riccardi.
According to Riccardi, all trends in popular music stem from Armstrong who perfected the improvised solo and turned it into an art form.
“From Charlie Barker to Jimi Hendrix, they are all creating sounds directly descended from Armstrong,” he said.
Artifacts from the collection give an intimate perspective on Armstrong backstage, in the recording studio, at home and in concert. Many of the personal letters, scrapbooks and reels were the result of Armstrong himself. The artist wanted to be in control how how he was to be remembered.
Many of the photographs come from his personal photographer and close friend Jack Bradley and Paul Studer. They also give insight into his creative process which he worked on diligently to develop over his lifetime.
The Corona museum decided to digitize the artifacts in honor of the 75th anniversary of the legendary musicians move to Corona in 1943. The new collection also is also part of the museum’s greater plan to build another museum across the street with bigger and better experiential exhibits on the artist.
“It’s going to be our version of Graceland,” said Riccardi, who added that the new building is set to open fall of next year and will be right across the street from the museum.
The annual Louis Armstrong House Museum Gala on Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Capitale in Manhattan will support the museum’s efforts. The event includes a cocktail hour, silent auction, seated dinner, and the presentation of the Louie Award to nine-time Grammy-award-winning musician, philanthropist and longtime friend of Louis Armstrong, Herb Alpert. Additional guests will include noted philanthropists Saul Kupferberg and Gail Coleman.
Past recipients of the Louie Award include Wycliffe Gordon, Quincy Jones, Dick Cavett, Dr. John, George Avakian, Jon Faddis and Robert F. Smith.