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Not a wonderful world: Louis Armstrong tapes reveal how racism scarred his life and career

Audio diaries including previously unheard material tell of the jazz giant’s anger over the prejudice he faced

Louis Armstrong performs on the Kraft Music Hall TV show at NBC Studios in New York in June 1967. Photograph: David Redfern/Redferns

He was a founding father of jazz, a trumpet virtuoso and a gravel-voiced singer revered across the world, with Mack the Knife and Hello, Dolly! among his enduring hits. Yet Louis Armstrong was so focused on how history would judge him that he sought to preserve his own story for posterity by taping his recollections, including about the prejudice he suffered over the colour of his skin.

Now the makers of a major documentary on the celebrated musician, nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, have been given unprecedented access to that archive, which includes thousands of hours of previously unheard audio recordings.


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