Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
New York, NY —
It was 110 years ago on July 4 that Louis Armstrong, the ambassador of American music, was born. That's if you take his word for it.
Before the late 1980s, the world believed Armstrong when he said he was born in 1900 on the anniversary of America's independence.
Deslyn Dyer, the assistant director of the Louis Armstrong House in Corona, Queens, says the jazz legend promoted this story his whole life.
"It was not a documented birthday, and that's not so unusual," Dyer says.
But when a researcher uncovered Armstrong's baptismal certificate, he discovered Armstrong's true birthday; August 4, 1901, making Armstrong 13 months younger than he'd claimed.
But the Louis Armstrong House still celebrates his birthday on the Fourth of July. "A great American being born on America's birthday," Dyer says. "Couldn't be better."
(Archival images and audio courtesy of The Louis Armstrong House Museum)