finding your roots

Satchmo? Really??

Sunny Sampson June 12, 2012

My paternal grandfather told me that he secretly believed he was Lewis Armstrong’s long lost little brother. He believed he was from New Orleans, and was adopted into the Sampson family. His first name was Nodie and I have no ideal where from that came. I never thought about it until years later, after his death, I was sitting in a Jazz History course watching a video shot at Satchmo’s 75th birthday party. I was present at my grandfathers 70th(ish) birthday party and my memory of that party was indistinguishable from what I was watching. Then Satchmo turned toward the camera and laughed at some joke, just like I’d seen my grandfather turn and laugh a hundred times. I was convinced from that moment on that my grandfather’s suspicions were correct. And yet, just like him, I have been afraid to try to find out for sure… Until now!
Now there are a couple things that lend credence to my suspicions: 1. My grandfather and all his descendants have been estranged from the rest of the Sampson’s since before I was born. 2. Many of my grandfather’s descendents are preacher’s and performers, and we all have the same signature smile. I think I am ready to learn the truth. The picture is me performing as the “Manager of the Apollo Theater” the night Buddy Holly opened there…

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  • Flame

    June 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    My cousin Edmond Hall and Laurence Duhe were jazz musicians in New Orleans. Edmond played in Louis Armstrong’s band.

    Louis was born on the Woodland Plantation in LaPlace.

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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