(from left to right: Matthew Whitaker, Alain Lauture, Tyrel Hunt, Ulysses Owens Jr., Xhosa Fray-Chinn)
The Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives Rolls Out Armstrong Now!, A New Interdisciplinary, Multi-Sector Initiative
Featuring work from contemporary artists and innovators while honoring the jazz legend’s legacy, Armstrong Now! is a creative series that responds to the newly digitized Armstrong Archives
Ulysses Owens Jr. and Alain Lauture named 2022 Artists in Residence
The Louis Armstrong House Museum is thrilled to release its new creative initiative Armstrong Now!, made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation and the New York State Council for the Arts. With the fresh addition of over 60,000 new digitized pieces in the Armstrong Collection, the museum has commissioned a roster of premiere artists and innovators to engage with the archives and legacy of Louis Armstrong through a contemporary lense.
Artistic excellence, innovation, community engagement and activism are a few descriptors that capture Armstrong’s rich legacy. Delving into the complexities of Louis Armstrong and the impression he has left on society, Armstrong Now! projects contextualize modern responses to the jazz icon’s legacy while encapsulating each artist’s individual journey. These original works, all inspired by the archives and filmed at The Armstrong House Museum, span a variety of mediums including visual and written arts, film, music and theater.
The first season of Armstrong Now! features artists and collaborators Naomi Extra, Melanie Charles, Kayla Farrish, Derrick Baskin, Braxton Cook, Michael Mayo, Alita Moses, Martha Nichols, Christian Sands, Negah Santos, Vuyo Sotashe, Ben Stampler, Daniel J Watts, Brett Williams and program curator Jake Goldbas. More information on each artist can be found here.
Armstrong Now! production will continue this year with its 2022 Artist-in-Residence program, which provides emerging artists with platforms and resources to create new work through the Spring and Fall of 2022 inspired by thematic research in the Armstrong Archives. This year’s Artists-in-Residence Ulysses Owens Jr. and Alain Lauture, working alongside pianist phenom Matthew Whitaker will document the process of creating the new work, including a performance of the work inside the Louis Armstrong House Museum to be recorded during the Summer.
“At the age of 18 upon graduating high school, I was awarded the Louis Armstrong Award for musicianship, which was an honor; and now in 2022 to be named the Armstrong Now Artist in Residence is beyond my wildest dreams,” Owens states. “I will attempt to connect to the ‘now’ element of the residency; making sure that we keep Louis’ music, and voice relevant and create unique presentational moments that will allow this generation to fully recognize Mr. Armstrong’s contribution.
Working in collaboration with the Artists-In-Residence, Tyrel Hunt and Xhosa Fray-Chinn have been selected as Filmmakers-In-Residence. “When we create from within, we subconsciously pay homage to those who paved the way for us,” Fray-Chinn shares. “I’m looking forward to creating something that helps keep Louis Armstrong’s rich legacy alive,” Hunt also notes.
The Residency will culminate with a public performance and viewing of the short film in the Fall of 2022.
For more information, please visit louisarmstronghouse.org/armstrong-now
More about Armstrong NOW and The Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives
Armstrong NOW is the new initiative of the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives to re-introduce audiences everywhere to Louis Armstrong’s legacy of artistry and innovation through an interdisciplinary, multi-sector engagement of Armstrong’s contributions. Armstrong Now features world renowned Black artists responding creatively to the newly digitized Armstrong Archives. The result of these engagements will be the development of new collaborative projects, art works, and a suite of short films for all ages.
The Louis Armstrong Archives is among the most significant Black archival collections in the world, and one of the most substantial of any jazz musician. With this new programmatic and interpretive expansion, LAHM aspires to contextualize Armstrong’s contributions firmly within historic and 21st Century constellations of Black making, thinking, and vitality. In the tradition of Louis Armstrong’s role as cultural Ambassador to the world, Armstrong Now will engage local and global communities to connect with one another – a global neighborhood in support of music, education, dialogue and community.