Louis Armstrong’s initial gigs: Our Times
October 11, 2015 - Picnic Time
The tender sum about Louis Armstrong’s infirm years as a musician are good established. As a child, a destiny jazz idol was sent to a internal reformatory of sorts for during slightest a second time, and shortly he assimilated a rope of a institution, a Colored Waifs Home.
Armstrong wrote in his journal that “the rope mostly got a possibility to play during a private cruise or join one of a visit parades by a streets of New Orleans covering all tools of a city, Uptown, Back o’ Town, Front o’ Town, Downtown.”
But a immature musicians also played during slightest one venue that was some-more blurb in nature: a Crescent Theatre in what’s now a Central Business District. The performances there in 1913, that are not widely famous to biographers of Armstrong, could be deliberate among his initial gigs as a veteran musician. They are also a sheer sign of a sincere injustice that pervaded all elements of New Orleans multitude during a Jim Crow era.
The uncover was “The White Slave,” a supposed secular melodrama created in 1882 by Bartley Campbell and set in a antebellum South. Campbell, who had worked in New Orleans as a immature publisher before apropos a successful playwright, was institutionalized in an violent haven several years after essay “The White Slave,” according to his 1888 necrology in The New York Times.
“The story of a play is a elementary one,” wrote The Daily Picayune in a Nov. 16, 1913, edition. “A lady grows adult in an elegant Southern home underneath a faith that she is an octoroon, and falls a worker into a hands of a male who would misuse her. She escapes with her lover, and after flitting by many perils complacency comes during final with a believe that she is a free-born white woman.”
Lillian Lee Anderson was a star. Ticket prices were in line with other theaters in what was a hotly rival market: You could see a Colored Waifs Home rope for as tiny as 15 cents.
Armstrong is not mentioned by name in stories about a show, nor is any other member of a band. But a immature African-American musicians were described as one of a highlights of a play, and a journal coverage suggests they were compensated for their work.
“Superintendent Agnew is creation his dark-skinned rope from a waif’s home acquire their new uniforms during a Crescent this week. The sene-gambian music-makers are partial of ‘The White Slave’ uncover — a large part, too,” The Daily Picayune wrote, referring to Thomas Agnew, a white male who was a personality of a Louisiana Society for a Prevention of Cruelty to Children. There is no plead of Peter Davis, who as a rope executive for a Colored Waifs Home lerned a series of musicians who went on to good fame, or Capt. Joseph Jones, who operated a home with his wife, Manuella.
The press coverage of a immature musicians is threadbare, yet it does note that a songs they played were a brew of a aged and new. There was even dancing during some of a performances.
“The negroes sang all a aged informed songs of a South, and mingled a ragtime melodies of today, responding to many encores,” The Daily Picayune wrote on Nov. 17. “Friday night there will be sire and wing dancing for income prizes.”
“This is a initial I’ve listened about a Waif’s Home rope personification behind a play in Nov 1913, and it offers fascinating discernment into Armstrong’s beginning practice as a immature professional,” Ricky Riccardi, archivist during a Louis Armstrong House and Museum in New York and author of “What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years,” pronounced in an email.
The Crescent, that was on Baronne Street nearby Common, was ripped down in 1937. By then, Armstrong was famous worldwide for his song and had seemed in his initial films. Lillian Lee Anderson seems to have faded into obscurity.
“Armstrong was during a Waifs Home for a year and a half,” Riccardi said, “and yet he talked about it frequently he didn’t plead a sum of day-to-day life and a forms of song he had to play. Learning about this one eloquent prolongation illustrates that Armstrong was already removing an preparation in a universe of uncover business.”
The Daily Picayune did not tell photographs of “The White Slave” cast. But a French-language internal journal L’Abeille printed a shot of a “scene de la plantation” in a Nov. 16, 1913, edition. It’s grainy, yet in a front row, we can make out what appears to be a tiny organisation of children. Perhaps one of them is immature Louis Armstrong, on theatre during age 12, behaving to get uniforms for his band.