Posted on: Sep 30, 2013 -- Last updated on: Jan 22, 2014
Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America
Features Limited-Edition Museum Collectible for Black History Month
Louis Armstrong House Museum’s new exhibit Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America tells the story of Louis Armstrong’s historic tour, his first trip to South America, and kicks off the museum’s Black History Month programming.
In September 1957, Louis Armstrong was thriving in his role as America's unofficial "Ambassador of Goodwill," bringing joy and glorious music all across the globe. But that same month, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus sent the National Guard to Little Rock Central High School to prevent nine African-American students from integrating the school. When United States President Dwight Eisenhower didn’t intervene, Armstrong became so enraged, he lashed out at the United States government to the press, saying, “The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell.” His courageous stand rocked the nation and caused him to end up on the receiving end of negative criticism from both the white and black press.
One month later, Armstrong was set to embark on his first tour of South America, six straight weeks of performances that would find the trumpeter performing 67 concerts in five countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. Any controversy surrounding Armstrong back home disappeared the minute he landed in Buenos Aires, his arrival sparked a full-scale riot with admirers fighting for a chance to just see him and touch him. He wore a baseball catcher's mask to prevent overzealous fans from harming his sacred lips.
Everywhere Armstrong went in South America, he was treated like a king: worshipped by local musicians in Buenos Aires, meeting President Juscelino Kubitschek and popular singer Cauby Peixoto in Brazil, gracing the cover of periodicals in Chile and Uruguay and performing a mock-bullfight on stage with Trummy Young in Caracas.
Caracas especially was fraught with tension as Armstrong’s concert received a bomb threat. “They were supposed to blow that university up the night we played there and it was crowded with students and everybody,” Louis recalled. “And there wasn’t no trouble the whole time we was there. Didn’t start until after we leave. Evidently, we must have held it up because we played for the President and everything. And everybody was smiling,” he added. Six months later, Vice President Richard Nixon’s car was attacked by an angry mob of protesters in Caracas. Lucille Armstrong later remarked with pride that her husband received a greater reception than the Vice President.
Louis knew how important this moment was and brought many souvenirs back from his trip to his Corona, Queens home including records, tapes, magazines and photographs. For this unique exhibit, the museum presents materials collected by the Armstrong’s and other collectors as well as many unpublished photographs by legendary photographer Lisl Steiner.
The exhibit Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America runs now through April 30, 2014. And during February, as part of the museum’s Black History Month celebration, each visitor will receive a limited-edition museum collectible of Armstrong in Buenos Aires in October 1957, wearing his catcher’s mask and doing his best to avoid the mobs of adoring fans, a true testament to the power of Ambassador Satch. The museum collectible is complimentary with museum admission during the month of February (while supplies last, one per visitor please).
Black History Month 5 Boro Tour
Louis Armstrong House Museum is the founder and proud participant of NYC’s Black History Month 5 Boro Tour. The BHM 5 Boro tour is a self-guided tour featuring the programming of nine culturally significant sites across all five boroughs. The participating organizations include: African Burial Ground National Monument, Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center - Queens Library, Louis Armstrong House Museum, MoCADA, National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Sandy Ground Historical Society Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture - New York Public Library, Weeksville Heritage Center and the Woodlawn Conservancy. More information about the 5 Boro Tour can be found at LouisArmstrongHouse.org.
Louis Armstrong House Museum
Thanks to the vision and funding of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Louis Armstrong House Museum welcomes visitors from all over the world, six days per week, 52 weeks per year. The Louis Armstrong House Museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Association of African American Museums, Black History Month 5 Boro Tour, Museums Council of New York City, New York State Museums Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation, NYC & Co., and the Queens Tourism Council. The museum is a constituent of Kupferberg Center for the Arts - Queens College/CUNY. The museum’s exhibit Señor Satchmo: Louis Armstrong in South America is a program participant of Queens College’s Year of Brazil initiative.
Curated by Ricky Riccardi
Major funding is provided by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.