Musical Apostles: Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Professor Longhair, and Fats Domino
Among the many celebrated prodigies of New Orleans' music traditions, probably the single most influential innovator and global emissary of its jazz linage was Louis Armstrong. From his Storyville childhood, to his early work and travels with King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, to his rise as an international pop icon, Armstrong's pioneering virtuosity as a soloist was foundational to the development of improvisation techniques so central to modern jazz. Rooted in the musical vibrancy New Orleans' Black Church traditions, Mahalia Jackson similarly played a prominent role in the development of modern gospel music as the internationally acclaimed Queen of Gospel, while committing her talents as a commanding voice during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. Drawing on New Orleans' eclectic musical landscape including the Blues, boogie-woogie stride, and rhythmic resonances from the Caribbean, pianist Roy "Professor Longhair" Byrd was an instrumental and wide-ranging innovator of New Orleans' rhythm-and-blues music. Native and longtime resident of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward, pianist Fats Domino similarly drew from New Orleans' deep musical currents as one of the foundational figures in the development American rock-and-roll in the 1950s.