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Satchmo's Queens Home Turned Into Museum To Honor Music Legend

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In the following Queens Week report, NY1's Stephanie Simon takes us to a home famous for both music and memories.

A small residential street in Corona, Queens looms large on the world's musical map, because it was once home to jazz great Louis Armstrong.

Today, the house is a museum, but instead of gathering dust, music continues to fill the street, just as it did when Armstrong and his wife Lucille lived here.

Henry "Pucho" Brown and his eight-piece band, the Latin Soul Brothers performed a neighborhood concert recently, continuing Armstrong's legacy of uniting people of different ages and backgrounds through music.

"Oh this is marvelous," says Pucho. I took a tour of the house, being here with history, [with] Mr. Armstrong."

Phoebe Jacobs knows that history. She was Armstrong's publicist and helped found the museum.

"People call it charisma, magic. I think it's honesty, simplicity and naturalness; that's what he had," she says.

Jacobs says there's reason for music fans to celebrate Satchmo all summer long. During his lifetime, the trumpet virtuoso celebrated his birthday on July 4th. Like a lot of people of the time who didn't have a birth certificate, he chose a holiday to celebrate his birthday.

"Now somebody came along and they said his birthday was August 6th. Well this is fine, Louis is important enough to celebrate twice," says Jacobs.

Being inside Louis Armstrong's house, you can't help but be moved by the power of his music.

"Louis went to Africa and they were having a war, and that war was stopped when Louis came," recalls Jacobs.

The exhibit chronicles Armstrong's travels to Africa, including a stop in 1953. In the Belgian Congo, in the midst of a civil war, the two sides halted the fighting for Armstrong's concert.

"I asked him what he did when he was in Africa. He doesn't speak Swahili and he doesn't speak Momboza, so what did he do," says Jacobs. "He said, 'well, I picked up my horn and I blew, because a note is a note in any language.' So music is universal."

And it continues to be, not just around the world, but right outside his front door.

- Stephanie Simon


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