New York's Louis Armstrong House Museum Celebrates 50 Years of "What A Wonderful World"
August 16th marked the 50th anniversary of when Louis Armstrong recorded his iconic cover of "What A Wonderful World." Released as a single by ABC-Paramount on September 23, 1967, the jazz giant's classic cover still serves as medicine for turbulent times.
The song held strong meaning for Armstrong, as he pictured himself singing "What a Wonderful World" for the children in his Corona, Queens neighborhood. Once primarily an African American neighborhood, Corona is now home to people of cultures from around the world, and Armstrong's cover still offers a peaceful representation of the most diverse county in the world.
"There's so much in 'Wonderful World' that brings me back to my neighborhood where I live in Corona, New York, " Armstrong said in 1968. "Lucille and I, ever since we're married, we've been right there in that block. And everybody keeps their little homes up like we do and it's just like one big family. I saw three generations come up on that block. And they're all with their children, grandchildren, they come back to see Uncle Satchmo and Aunt Lucille. That's why I can say, 'I hear babies cry/ I watch them grow/ they'll learn much more/ then I'll never know.' And I can look at all them kids's faces. And I got pictures of them when they was five, six and seven years old. So when they hand me this 'Wonderful World, ' I didn't look no further, that was it."
"A half-century ago, as turmoil and restlessness stemming from the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the rise of feminism, nascent hippie culture and other social and political changes spread across the globe, Louis Armstrong recorded a simple, unapologetic ode to peace and brotherhood that became the final chart hit of his long career, " writes Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/la-et-ms-louis-armstrong-what-wonderful-world-50th-anniversary-20170816-story.html
The Louis Armstrong House Museum, which opened in 2003 in Armstrong's family home in Corona in Queens, is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of this famous recording with a special limited exhibition, "50 Years of 'What A Wonderful World.'" At this exhibit, running now through October 16, visitors can view many rare artifacts related to the original recording including rare photos from the original 1967 recording date, albums, sheet music, and news clippings. All these artifacts are pulled from the extensive Research Collections of the Louis Armstrong House Museum, the world's largest archive for any jazz musician.
"Today, it is Armstrong's most popular recording, " says Ricky Riccardi, Director of Research Collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and the world's expert on Armstrong's life and music. "The song has racked up millions of views on YouTube and regularly leading the jazz categories on streaming music such as Spotify and Apple Music. Other artists have covered 'What a Wonderful World, ' but Louis Armstrong's cover remains the most popular and memorable version."
The museum has put together a video of a diverse cast of visitors singing along to "What a Wonderful World, " celebrating the song's reach and impact across generations and cultures.
This anniversary also coincides with groundbreaking on a new Louis Armstrong House Museum Education Center across the street from the Museum scheduled to open in the Fall of 2019.
Major funding for Louis Armstrong House Museum is provided by the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Queens College/CUNY; Fund II Foundation; the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS); the New York State Council on the Arts; the New York State Education Department; the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Con Edison; Bank of America; New York Community Trust; the Rudin Family Foundation; the Estates of Jane and Leslie Katz; the Estate of Peter John Willcocks; and members and donors from all over the world. Support is also provided by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley; NYC Council Member Julissa Ferreras- Copeland; NY State Senator Josť Peralta; NY State Assemblymember Jeffrion L. Aubry, and NY State Assemblymember Francisco Moya.
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