Many jazz listeners know Louis Armstrong as one of the most innovative trumpet players ever to pick up the horn.
His influence on jazz and American music in general is difficult to measure without some degree of hyperbole, and several of his songs, including “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “What a Wonderful World” have entered the pantheon of American classics.
However, few people know that if Louis Armstrong was concerned with pleasing everyone, he would have never attained the great heights in the music field that he reached.Don't Worry About Pleasing Everyone, Do What Is Best For You Click To Tweet
Being different was, in essence, what made him great. If you plan on working in entertainment, it’s career advice you should follow!
A Little Background First
Armstrong grew up impoverished in New Orleans, and was in trouble with the law as a young boy. Although he demonstrated musical talent from a young age, there was no current genre of music that really piqued his interest… so he decided to create his own!
By the end of this article, if you feel you want to go into a field that no one around you understands, be it genre-bending jazz trumpeting or something as crazy as playing music with a sewing machine, then stick around, this is what you need to know!
As Armstrong became more and more proficient at the trumpet, he realized that the sound he had in his head didn’t exist out in the world. There was “Creole jazz”, which was a form of fast-paced New Orleans dance music, and marching band music, which taught him to read music but didn’t stir his heartstrings.
Everyone in New Orleans was playing and listening to these types of music, and Armstrong began to feel as though he had to shift the paradigm.
It was time to change things up.
He began to combine Creole jazz with improvised street music, and suddenly crowds began to gather everywhere he played in New Orleans, Chicago and New York. People had never heard anything like the notes that were coming out of Armstrong’s instrument, and they loved them!
Soon, Louis was playing (and starring!) in King Joe Oliver’s big band in Chicago. He was a huge part of an innovative scene, and he WAS pleasing everyone with his new music — but he decided to go even further.
As Louis grew into his own as a musician, he began to resent the level of control that Oliver had over his playing. So again, even though everyone in the scene told him to stay put, Louis followed his muse and left the band.
The rest, as they say, is history.
By playing only what he wanted to play, Louis Armstrong became one of the most famous musicians in America over the next 20 years. He sang duets with Ella Fitzgerald, performed all over the country and the world, and even played with white stars like Bing Crosby long before integrated concerts were widely accepted in the industry.Have the courage to follow your own inspiration Click To Tweet
He became a star of the screen too, where his wide smile and infectious joy could be seen and adored by millions.
He Never Wavered
Louis never gave up on sounding like himself, even when his style of jazz became slightly outdated in his later years. He never warmed to bebop, the style of jazz popularized by artists like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, even though many in his audience shifted their focus to these new, innovative musicians.
However, although he never cared for bebop, he never personally attacked the artists who played it — he knew that with different tastes came different styles. After all, change was what he built his career on.
Louis Armstrong had one of the most remarkable and long-lived jazz careers in history, and he could do it only because he played what was in his head and his heart. Rather than worrying about pleasing everyone, he aimed only to please himself and success followed.
The courage to follow your own inspiration is an extremely important attribute for any artist. Living like a meek little sheep is no way to get ahead in life. It is certainly a wonderful world, but you must have the courage to make it that way.
Whether you play the trumpet or a sewing machine – yes, that’s a real thing – remember what Louis said: “I don’t listen to fanatics who tell me how to blow my horn,” and follow whatever doesn’t let you sleep at night!
Author bio: Alex Moore is a West Virginia graduate and full time writer. Being the editor of Sewing Machine Judge, he has learned that people from all walks of life have hobbies they’d love to go full time into, but lack the courage and then lack the time. So, he wants to inspire you to take all the effort you put into fulfilling someone else’s dream and use it to make yours come true!