Louis Armstrong makes his Carnegie Hall debut as a headliner on February 8.

Armstrong’s program was structured as a retrospective, arranged “geographically” into four sections that traced his career in music up to that point: New Orleans, Chicago, New York, and Hollywood. After thirty years in the music business, he was still in top form.

“He is as old as New Orleans and as new as tomorrow,” wrote Nora Holt in the New York Amsterdam News, then one of the largest African American dailies in the US. “And his genius will live in history as a fundamental part of American music, whether from the soil or the symphony.”

Before his debut as a headliner, Armstrong was on the Hall stage twice, once as a guest and the second as part of a larger roster of artists. He sang the spiritual “Goin’ to Shout All Over God’s Heaven” and Robert MacGimsey’s “Shadrack” with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra on Christmas Day in 1938, and returned in October to perform on an all-star concert that included WC Handy, James P. Johnson, and the Abyssinian Baptist Church Choir. 

Photo by William P. Gottlieb, courtesy of Library of Congress  

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