Louis Armstrong was a popular American singer and trumpeter who had a rich career for five decades and revolutionized the way jazz music was sung.
He started singing at an early age and was famous not only for his solo trumpeting but for his rich gravelly voice.
Armstrong’s influence over the decades have not waned and he has inspired numerous notable singers in the jazz industry and music as a whole.
Till today, upcoming singers still express the desire to sing like Louis Armstrong.
In today’s article, we will explore the steps needed to sing like him, his voice type and what made him so unique as well as his vocal range.
What Are The Steps Needed To Sing Like Louis Armstrong?
- Get a Voice Teacher
Louis Armstrongs’ gravelly voice was not a natural phenomenon but from years of bad singing and other unhealthy habits such as singing.
Raspiness is not a natural singing voice and if you tried to practice on your own you would end up damaging your voice.
A voice teacher would be able to guide you on how to produce those raspy sounds.
- Understand Whether Your Voice Can Rasp
Some voices are more delicate than others, while some can survive being roughened, the more delicate ones can record damage when you use the scrunching vocal technique.
- Try To Fake Rasp
Like I said earlier, voices like that of Louis Armstrong are not cultivated but as a result of untrained singing and bad vocal habits.
Except if you want to have permanent damage to your voice, you have to learn to fake rasp. This makes your voice come off as having some grittiness.
Even this technique should not be used for a long period to avoid damage to the vocal cords.
- Watch Louis Armstrong Performances
There are videos of Louis Armstrong performing on Youtube and MTV.
Take your time to go through his songs, listen and watch for even the tiniest details. As you do this, you’ll learn to mimic his style and in time will be able to sing just like him.
- Practice Constantly
Like I always tell everyone who aims to sing like a notable singer, practice and practice.
Voice practice is an activity you can carry out almost anywhere; while doing the dishes, cleaning the house and even walking down the street if you don’t mind the stares of course.
With time and patience, you would be able to achieve your goals and aspirations.
What Voice Type Does Louis Armstrong Have?
Louis Armstrong was a baritone singer with a rich gravelly voice which made his songs sound raspy.
Louis Armstrong’s famously gritty baritone voice helped popularize scat singing in the 1930s and 1940s, making him one of the most iconic voices in popular music.
Scat singing is a type of vocal improvisation in vocal jazz that uses wordless vocables, nonsense syllables, or no words at all and the singer rather makes up them as he sings along.
Louis Armstrongs’ influence on jazz music is one which cannot be overemphasized and a number of notable singers from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald have all adopted his style of music.
What Makes Louis Armstrong’s Voice So Unique?
Louis Armstrong’s’ gravelly voice and his vocal innovations which have been a major influence on the world of jazz music till today were his unique points.
To start with Armstrong never got voice training but he started singing on the streets from a very early age.
His gravelly voice however was not natural as he developed voice nodules in the late 1920s’.
This has been linked by some experts to street singing as the children were required to sing loud and who sang loudest got more gifts. This technique often led to voice damage over time.
He tried to repair his voice with surgeries in 1936 and 1937 but they were not successful and contributed further to the damage in the voice.
He was also a smoker which could have contributed to the growth of his nodes.
During this time, Armstrong helped to popularize the sound of the rasp especially among black singers and which most of his audience found soothing.
These influences had a long lasting effect on the music world.
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Can Louis Armstrong Actually Sing?
Louis Armstrong gave two major contributions to the world of music and most especially jazz music.
Armstrong is one of the greatest instrumentalists of all time and established himself early on in his career.
His unique style of trumpeting gave definition to the role of any jazz soloist and in turn changed the course of jazz music.
Much less talked about is his singing. For a man who had no vocal training or took voice lessons, he was able to sing beautifully.
His gravelly raspy voice thrilled many audiences and he has been defined as one of the greatest musicians to have ever lived.
How Did Louis Armstrong Start Singing?
Louis Armstrong, born in 1901 in Louisiana, USA started singing early during his childhood in a boys quartet.
When at 12 he was sent to a juvenile home, he learned to play the cornet and from then music became his life and passion.
He joined Oliver Creole’s jazz band in 1922 and he became popular for his unique style of singing.
He left the band around 1924 and spent about a year in Fletcher Henderson’s band and during that period established himself as the first great jazz soloist.
Some of his recordings then include the Armstrong Hot Five and Hot Seven recordings of 1925–28.
By 1929, he was already playing the trumpet and was touring the US and Europe and was accompanied by various bands but more especially Luis Russell’s band.
Some of his masterpieces within that period include ‘That’s My Home’, ‘Body and Soul’, and ‘Star Dust’.
His style of music is a major influence on jazz music till today and other notable jazz singers such as Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday followed his style of music.
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What Is Louis Armstrong’s Vocal Range?
Louis Armstrong had a limited vocal range at 2.4 octaves. His voice spanned from F2- G4.
Despite his limited range, Armstrong played with his voice and explored it just like he did with the trumpet. His significant low notes are recorded in songs such as ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘April in Paris’.
It was not a deterrent for him and Louis Armstrongs’ voice wasn’t flashy or exaggerated, but it always served the song resulting in a soothing melody which many music lovers still love till today.
What Is The Highest Note Louis Armstrong Can Sing?
Most people who had heard Louis Armstrong sing attested that his highest note was still a G4. This can be observed in ‘Blueberry Hill and ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’.
As I mentioned earlier, Louis had a limited vocal range as a baritone and most experts suspect he didn’t want people to focus on his voice as he could definitely have expanded it.
What Are Some Classic Louis Armstrong Songs To Practice?
- What a Wonderful World: Although this song was not an immediate hit in the US, it was a huge hit in the UK and Louis Armstrong became the oldest singer to have a hit single at age 66. The songwriter had originally wanted Louis to perform it because of his amazing voice.
- We Have All The Time in The World: ‘We Have All The Time in The World’ was written by composer John Barry who chose Louis to sing because he felt he could deliver on the song. It was originally used for the James Bond movie ‘On Her Majestys’ Secret Service’ and became a Top 10 hit in the UK.
- When The Saints Go Marching In: Already a classic hymn by the time Louis Armstrong sang it, he put his own twist on it by turning it into a jazz classic and it has remained so.
Louis Armstrong has a strong influence on jazz music which persists till today. At the time, he was doing his own thing but his innovations have stood the test of time and are still admirable till today.
His trumpeting and singing style changed the way people saw jazz music and he popularized the raspy way of singing which would later be imitated by quite a number of black singers.
As a baritone with a gravelly voice, he had a limited vocal range, however he still came across powerfully and endeared himself to his audience.