Born to Swing: Lil Hardin Armstrong's Life in Jazz

by Mara Rockliff and Michele Wood

Born in Memphis in 1898, Lil Hardin loved jazz. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed... read more

Born in Memphis in 1898, Lil Hardin loved jazz. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to play what her mother dubbed “Devil’s music,” but Lil added her own beat and style to the organ music she played at Sunday school. She learned to improvise after losing her place during a piano contest at Mrs. Hicks’s School of Music. When her family moved to Chicago, Lil landed a job at a music store, the meeting (and jamming) place for many of the city’s jazz musicians. Soon, she was asked to join the New Orleans Creole Jazz Band, and she became a fixture in the scene. She met, and then married, Louis Armstrong before he was a jazz legend, while her own fame garnered attention. A woman of many talents, Lil continued jamming until her death in 1971. Written in first person, this biography crackles with Lil’s confident character and passion for music. End matter provides additional information, a timeline, bibliography, and a list of Lil’s most famous songs. (Ages 5–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

show less