Louis, Duke, and Ella: Strong, Willing, and Fit

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All New Orleanians have a favorite genre of music, and even if that genre is not jazz they still hold the greats of jazz music to the highest regard. Jazz music was born and bred in the south, which is why musicians like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Ella Fitzgerald are common names here. The average person knows that these musicians rose to achieve musical success and national fame. However, most people are unaware of how these musicians affected each other’s lives both directly and indirectly. Although Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington were faced with discrimination and animosity at the beginning of their careers, people eventually became accustomed to enjoying music from black musicians. This made Ella Fitzgerald’s journey to fame easier than theirs’ years later.
As a black musician living in the south in the early 1900’s, it was difficult for Louis Armstrong to be successful. When a reporter asked Armstrong about his early life, he learned that “[b]eing a black in Armstrong’s day in the South. . . was like being a private in the army. Everywhere there were constraints, limits, rules, authorities who at whim could hand down difficulties, suffering, death” (Collier 13). The success of blacks was fully dependent upon the willingness of white producers to take a chance with new, black talent. This was an obstacle because no matter how much an aspiring musician wanted fame, their success was limited unless they had the assistance of a white producer. Even when a talented black artist was discovered by an esteemed producer, their journey was not easy from there. An article about a university’s play set in a recording studio in the 1920’s claims the play portrays “the gritty glamour of the 1920s and the racial disparities of...

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