The Louis Armstrong House Museum has brought together more than a dozen artists from a variety of disciplines to perform as part of an integrative video series celebrating the famed trumpeter’s contributions to Black history and culture.
The historic site in the Corona neighbourhood of Queens was the home of Louis Armstrong and his wife Lucille Wilson from 1943 until his death in 1971. Lucille gave ownership of the house to the city of New York in order to turn it into a museum.
The archive’s latest project is Armstrong Now, a weekly series of short films by contemporary Black musicians, actors, writers and dancers inspired by Armstrong’s legacy.
“In his lifetime, Louis Armstrong was a cultural ambassador to the world,” the museum said in its announcement. “With Armstrong Now, we are re-introducing audiences everywhere to Louis’s legacy of artistry and innovation through an interdisciplinary, multi-sector engagement of Armstrong’s contributions — a global neighbourhood in support of music, education, dialogue and community.”
Curated by Jake Goldbas and filmed by Ben Stamper, the project features musicians Christian Sands, Braxton Cook, Melanie Charles, Michael Mayo, Alita Moses, Negah Santos, Vuyo Sotashe and Brett Williams; actors Derrick Baskin and Daniel J. Watts; dancers Kayla Farrish and Martha Nichols; and poet Naomi Extra.
“Armstrong Now is an initiative that is not only timely but necessary,” says Martha Nichols, a dancer whose performance credits include the Oscars, Cirque du Soleil, La La Land, the Metropolitan Opera and Rihanna. “Understanding the parallels in cultural discourse between today and during Louis’s life, this initiative is a beautiful look into the humanity of the cultural and musical icon Louis Armstrong, while strengthening the connection with Black artists of this generation.”
Armstrong Now began Oct. 5 and will continue through Dec. 31, culminating in a series of live online discussions.
“I am humbled and energized by what we all achieved in this debut season of Armstrong Now,” says Goldbas, the museum’s artistic producer. “In 2020, when we find ourselves in a calamitous landscape, the digitized Armstrong archives and home provide a lens and perspective for some of the world’s leading artists to show us the way through this. The magic that was created based on our research collections shows us the Armstrongs of today and tomorrow.”
Watch the trailer for Armstrong Now below.