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How to Stay Healthy During Your Period Tags: health mental wellness period strong word life prodution new quality entertainmnet

It's important to focus on your health everyday, not just during your menstrual cycle. However, the abdominal pain, irritability, insomnia, fatigue and appetite changes women experience with their periods make staying healthy even more significant. Simple steps can improve your energy-levels, productivity and moods while menstruating.

Step 1

Exercise. The idea of stepping on the treadmill or posing on your Pilates mat may seem arduous during your period, particularly for women who experience fatigue due to hormonal fluctuations and lack of sleep. However, exercise actually helps increase your energy levels and improve your moods, as a heart-pumping routine promotes circulation and produces endorphins. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily. A brisk walk, swim or bike ride are options to get you outdoors and active, which may help boost your spirits as well.

Step 2

Sit down with a soothing cup of ginger tea rather than coffee or alcohol, which can increase anxiety and make unsteady your already undulated emotions. Ginger tea, a decaffeinated beverage, is a widely used herbal remedy for menstrual cramping and nausea. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that post-surgery and chemotherapy patients use ginger to alleviate nausea. Consult a health care professional for safety and dosage recommendations.

Step 3

Don't skimp on sleep. Generally, adults require slightly more than eight hours of sleep nightly, although a mere 35 percent actually get this amount regularly, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If insomnia occurs during your period, due to the changes in hormone levels, take a hot bath at bedtime to relax your body. In addition, exposing yourself to late afternoon sunlight may help stimulate melatonin, which regulates the circadian rhythm, the body's internal clock.

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Step 4

Eat a balanced diet. Although many women crave chocolate and other treats during menstruation, giving in to the urge to binge will only leave you sluggish and guilt ridden. Instead, eat balanced meals and indulge in moderation. If you crave chocolate, allow yourself to eat a small serving rather than an entire box of truffles.

Step 5

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for cramping, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as directed by your doctor. This will help you stay active when stomach pains steal your motivation and sap your strength. The chemical prostaglandin causes the uterus to contract during menstruation, which doctor's believe results in stomach or back pain. More than half of all women experience these achy sensations, but they don't have to slow you down.

Source: Live Strong

The World's Strongest Champion - Mark Henry Tags: strongest champion mark henry greatest wrestler all time word life production new quality entertainment

Mark Jerrold Henry (born June 12, 1971) is a retired American powerlifter, Olympic weightlifter, strongman, and professional wrestler who is currently signed to WWE. He was a two-time Olympian in 1992 and 1996 and a Silver, Gold and Bronze Medalist at the Pan American Games in 1995. As a power lifter, he was WDFPF World Champion (1995) and a two-time U.S. National Champion (1995 and 1997) as well as an all-time raw world record holder in the squat and deadlift. Currently, he still holds the WDFPF world records in the squat, deadlift and total and the USAPL American record in the deadlift since 1995. He is credited for the biggest raw squat and raw powerlifting total ever performed by a drug tested athlete, regardless of weight class, as well as the greatest raw deadlift by an American citizen.

In weightlifting, Henry was a three-time U.S. National Weightlifting Champion (1993, 1994, 1996), an American Open winner (1992), a two-time U.S. Olympic Festival Champion (1993 and 1994) and a NACAC champion (1996). He holds all three Senior US American weightlifting records of 1993-1997. In 2002 he won the first annual Arnold Strongman Classic.

Since joining the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) in 1996, he has become a one-time WWF European Champion and a two-time world champion, having held the ECW Championship in 2008, and the World Heavyweight Championship in 2011.

Henry was born in Silsbee, Texas. As a child, Henry was a big wrestling fan and André the Giant was his favorite wrestler. While attending a wrestling show in Beaumont, young Henry tried to touch André as he was walking down the aisle, but tripped over the barricade. André picked him up out of the crowd and put him back behind the barricade. Henry played football in high school until his senior year, when he strained ligaments in his wrist during the first game of the year and scored below 700 on the SAT. When Henry was 12 years old, his father, Ernest, died of complications from diabetes. When he was 14 years old, Henry was diagnosed with dyslexia.

By the time Mark Henry was in the fourth grade, he was 5'5" and weighed 225 lb (102 kg). His mother bought a set of weights for him when he was 10 years old.[27] During Henry's freshman year at Silsbee High School, he was already able to squat 600 lb (270 kg), which was well over school record. As an 18-year-old high school senior, Henry was called "the world's strongest teenager" by the Los Angeles Times, and made it into the headlines in early 1990 for winning the National High School Powerlifting Championships and setting teenage lifting world records in the squat 832 lb (377 kg) and total 2,033 lb (922 kg). By the time Henry finished high school, he was a three-time Texas state champion with state and national records in all four powerlifting categories—the squat at 832 lb (377 kg), bench press at 525 lb (238 kg) and deadlift at 815 lb (370 kg) as well as the total at 2,033 lb (922 kg).

At the Texas high school powerlifting championships in April 1990, Terry Todd, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Texas at Austin and former weightlifter, spotted Henry and persuaded him to go to Austin after he graduated to train in the Olympic style of weightlifting. In July 1990 at the USPF Senior National Powerlifting Championships, 19-year-old Henry came second only to the legendary 6 time World Powerlifting Champion Kirk Karwoski. While powerlifting relies primarily on brute strength and power, which Henry obviously possessed, Olympic weightlifting is considered more sophisticated, involving more agility, timing, flexibility and technique. There have been few lifters in history who have been able to be successful in both lifting disciplines. Mastering the technique of weightlifting usually takes many years of practicing. But Henry broke four national junior records in weightlifting after only eight months of training. He attempted to compete in powerlifting and weightlifting at the same time, and quite successful at that: In April 1991, he won the United States National Junior Championships; 20 days later he placed fourth at the U.S. Senior National Championships, and finished sixth at the Junior World Weightlifting Championships in Germany two months later. Only few weeks afterwards, he became 1991's International Junior Champion in Powerlifiting as well. In Henry's first year of competing in weightlifting, he broke all three junior (20 and under) American records 12 times, and became the United States' top superheavyweight, surpassing Mario Martinez.

At the age of 19, Henry had already managed to qualify for the weightlifting competition at the 1992 Summer Olympics, where he finished tenth in the super heavyweight class. Ten months before the 1992 Olympics, Henry had begun training with Dragomir Cioroslan, a bronze medalist at the 1984 Summer Olympics, who said that he had "never seen anyone with Mark's raw talent". After the Olympics, Henry became more determined to focus on weightlifting and began competing all over the world. In late 1992 he took the win at the USA Weightlifting American Open and further proved his dominance on the American soil by winning not only the U.S. National Weightlifting Championships, but also the U.S. Olympic Festival Championships in 1993 and 1994. At the 1995 Pan American Games Henry won a gold, silver and bronze medal.

Having reached the pinnacle of weightlifting on a National and continental level, he competed again in powerlifting and shocked the world by winning the ADFPA U.S. National Powerlifting Championships in 1995 with an earthshattering 2314.8 lb raw Powerlifting Total. Despite competing without supportive equipment in contrast to the other competitors, Henry managed to outclass the lifter in second place by an incredible 286 lbs defeating not only 5 time IPF World Powerlifting Champion and 12 time USAPL National Powerlifting Champion Brad Gillingham, but also America's Strongest Man of 1997 Mark Philippi. In the process he set all-time world records in the raw deadlift at 903.9 lbs (410 kg) and the squat without a squat suit at 948.0 lbs (430 kg) as well as the all-time drug tested raw total at 2314.8 lb (1050 kg). Later that same year in October, he competed in the drug-free Powerlifting World Championships and won again, even though he trained on the powerlifts only sparingly—due his main focus still being on the 2 Olympic lifts. He not only become World Champion by winning the competition but also bettered his previous all-time squat world record to 953.5 lbs (432.5 kg) and his all-time drug tested world record total to 2336.9 lbs (1060 kg).

One year later, with the '96 Olympics already in sight, he became the North America, Central America, Caribbean Islands (NACAC) champion.[6] He earned the right to compete at the Olympics by winning the U.S. National Weightlifting Championships in the Spring of 1996 for a third time. During his victory Henry became Senior US American record holder (1993–1997) in the Snatch at 180.0 kg (396.8 lbs), Clean and jerk at 220.0 kg (485.0 lbs), and Total at 400.0 kg (881.8 lbs), improving all of his three previous personal bests. This 400 kg total, in the opinion of many experts in track field of international lifting—including Dragomir Cioroslan, the '96s coach of the U.S. team—was the highest ever made by an athlete who had never used anabolic steroids—who was lifetime drugfree. By that time, at the age of 24, Henry was generally acknowledged as the strongest man in the world, even by many of the Eastern Block athletes who outrank him in weightlifting. No one in the history of the sports had ever lifted as much as him in the five competitive lifts—the snatch and the clean and jerk in weightlifting—the squat, bench press and deadlift in powerlifting. To this day, his five lift total is still the greatest in history by a fair amount—making him arguably one of the strongest men that ever lived and stamp him, according to lifting statistician Herb Glossbrenner, as history’s greatest lifter.

In the months prior to the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Henry received more attention and publicity than any lifter in recent US history. He guested at Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Oprah Winfrey Show and was featured on HBO Inside Sports and The Today Show. He was also featured in dozens of magazines including U.S. News & World Report, People Vanity Fair, ESPN The Magazine and Life where he was photographed nude by famed artist Annie Lebowitz. During this period he connected with WWE owner Vince McMahon for the first time, which led to him signing a 10-year deal as professional wrestler.

Henry improved his lifts to 407 lb in the snatch and 507 lb in the clean and jerk during his final eight weeks of preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. Henry at 6-foot-4-inches tall and 414 lbs bodyweight, became the largest athlete in Olympic history and was voted captain of the Olympic weightlifting team. Unfortunately, he suffered a back injury during the competition and was unable to approach his normal performance level. Due to the injury he had to drop out after his first clean and jerk attempt and finished with a disappointing 14th place. His appearance at the Olympics proved to be his last official competition in Olympic weightlifting, as he retired from weightlifting, vowing never to return unless the sport is "cleaned up" of anabolic steroid use.

Since his career start as a professional wrestler shortly after the Olympics, he broke his leg in the Fall of 1996. But by the summer of the following year he had rehabbed it enough to be able to compete at the USAPL National Powerlifting Championships 1997, where he won the competition to become the U.S National Powerlifting Champion in the super heavyweight class again. He had planned to continue heavy training in powerlifting, although his travel schedule as a professional wrestler with the WWF (now WWE) has made sustained training difficult. Mark’s WWF contract was unique in many ways, allowing him at least three months off each year from wrestling, so he can train for the national and world championships in weightlifting or powerlifting. Barring injury, Mark had originally hoped to return to the platform in late 1998, to lift for many more years, and to eventually squat at least 1100 lbs without a “squat suit” and to deadlift 1000 lbs.

Although in early 1998 he was still able to do five reps in the bench press with 495 lbs, three reps in the squat with 855 lbs (with no suit and no knee wraps), and three reps in the standing press with 405 lbs in training, while traveling with the World Wrestling Federation, he never returned to compete again in official championships in favor of his wrestling career. He weighed 380 lbs at that time, and his right upper arm was measured at 24” by Terry Todd. By basically ending his lifting career at the age of 26, it is probable that he never reached his full physical potential as a professional lifter. Henry remains the youngest man in history to squat more than 900 pounds without a squat suit as well as the youngest to total more than 2,300 pounds raw - he's the only person ever to have accomplished any of these feats at under 25 years of age.

Source: Wikipedia

Louis Armstrong is one of the most influential jazz artists of all time
Category: Voices of Jazz
Tags: louis armstrong influential jazz artist all time word life production voices jazz feature weekly

Louis Armstrong, nicknamed "Satchmo," "Pops" and, later, "Ambassador Satch," was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana. An all-star virtuoso, he came to prominence in the 1920s, influencing countless musicians with both his daring trumpet style and unique vocals. Armstrong's charismatic stage presence impressed not only the jazz world but all of popular music. He recorded several songs throughout his career, including he is known for songs like "Star Dust,"La Via En Rose" and "What a Wonderful World." Armstrong died at his home in Queens, New York, on July 6, 1971.

Younger Years

Louis Armstrong was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a section so poor that it was nicknamed "The Battlefield." Armstrong had a difficult childhood. His father was a factory worker and abandoned the family soon after Louis's birth; his mother, who often turned to prostitution, frequently left him with his maternal grandmother. Armstrong was obligated to leave school in the fifth grade to begin working. A Jewish family, the Karnofskys, gave young Armstrong a job collecting junk and delivering coal. They also encouraged him to sing and often invited him into their home for meals.

On New Year's Eve in 1912, Armstrong fired his stepfather's gun in the air during a New Year's Eve celebration and was arrested on the spot. He was then sent to the Colored Waif's Home for Boys. There, he received musical instruction on the cornet and fell in love with music. In 1914, the home released him, and he immediately began dreaming of a life making music. While he still had to work odd jobs selling newspapers and hauling coal to the city's famed red-light district, Armstrong began earning a reputation as a fine blues player. One of the greatest cornet players in town, Joe "King" Oliver, began acting as a mentor to the young Armstrong, showing him pointers on the horn and occasionally using him as a sub.

By the end of his teens, Armstrong had grown up fast. In 1918, he married Daisy Parker, a prostitute, commencing a stormy union marked by many arguments and acts of violence. During this time, Armstrong adopted a three-year-old boy named Clarence. The boy's mother, Armstrong's cousin, had died in childbirth. Clarence, who had become mentally disabled from a head injury he had suffered at an early age, was taken care of by Armstrong his entire life.

Meanwhile, Armstrong's reputation as a musician continued to grow: In 1918, he replaced Oliver in Kid Ory's band, then the most popular band in New Orleans. He was soon able to stop working manual labor jobs and began concentrating full-time on his cornet, playing parties, dances, funeral marches and at local "honky-tonks"—a name for small bars that typically host musical musical acts. Beginning in 1919, Armstrong spent his summers playing on riverboats with a band led by Fate Marable. It was on the riverboat that Armstrong honed his music reading skills and eventually had his first encounters with other jazz legends, including Bix Beiderbecke and Jack Teagarden.

Though Armstrong was content to remain in New Orleans, in the summer of 1922, he received a call from King Oliver to come to Chicago and join his Creole Jazz Band on second cornet. Armstrong accepted, and he was soon taking Chicago by storm with both his remarkably firery playing and the dazzling two-cornet breaks that he shared with Oliver. He made his first recordings with Oliver on April 5, 1923; that day, he earned his first recorded solo on "Chimes Blues."

Armstrong soon began dating the female pianist in the band, Lillian Hardin. After they married in 1924, Hardin made it clear that she felt Oliver was holding Armstrong back. She pushed her husband to cut ties with his mentor and join Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, the top African-American dance band in New York City at the time. Armstrong joined Henderson in the fall of 1924, and immediately made his presence felt with a series of solos that introduced the concept of swing music to the band. Armstrong had a great influence on Henderson and his arranger, Don Redman, both of whom began integrating Armstrong's swinging vocabulary into their arrangements—transforming Henderson's band into what is generally regarded as the first jazz big band.

However, Armstrong's southern background didn't mesh well with the more urban, Northern mentality of Henderson's other musicians, who sometimes gave Armstrong a hard time over his wardrobe and the way he talked. Henderson also forbade Armstrong from singing, fearing that his rough way of vocalizing would be too coarse for the sophisticated audiences at the Roseland Ballroom. Unhappy, Armstrong left Henderson in 1925 to return to Chicago, where he began playing with his wife Lil's band at the Dreamland Café.

Mid-Career: Acclaimed Artist

While in New York, Armstrong cut dozens of records as a sideman, creating inspirational jazz with other greats such as Sidney Bechet, and backing numerous blues singers, namely Bessie Smith. Back in Chicago, OKeh Records decided to let Armstrong make his first records with a band under his own name: Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five. From 1925 to 1928, Armstrong made more than 60 records with the Hot Five and, later, the Hot Seven. Today, these are generally regarded as the most important and influential recordings in jazz history; on these records, Armstrong's virtuoso brilliance helped transform jazz from an ensemble music to a soloist's art. His stop-time solos on numbers like "Cornet Chop Suey" and "Potato Head Blues" changed jazz history, featuring daring rhythmic choices, swinging phrasing and incredible high notes. He also began singing on these recordings, popularizing wordless "scat singing" with his hugely popular vocal on 1926's "Heebie Jeebies."

The Hot Five and Hot Seven were strictly recording groups; Armstrong performed nightly during this period with Erskine Tate's orchestra at the Vendome Theater, often playing music for silent movies. While performing with Tate in 1926, Armstrong finally switched from the cornet to the trumpet.

Armstrong's popularity continued to grow in Chicago throughout the decade, as he began playing other venues, including the Sunset Café and the Savoy Ballroom. A young pianist from Pittsburgh, Earl "Fatha" Hines, assimilated Armstrong's ideas into his piano playing. Together, the two formed a potent team and made some of the greatest recordings in jazz history in 1928, including their virtuoso duet, "Weather Bird," and "West End Blues." The latter performance is one of Armstrong's best known works, opening with a stunning cadenza that features equal helpings of opera and the blues; with its release, "West End Blues" proved to the world that the musical genre of fun, dance jazz was also capable of producing high art.

In the summer of 1929, Armstrong headed to New York, where he had a role in a Broadway production of Connie's Hot Chocolates, featuring the music of Fats Waller and Andy Razaf. Armstrong was featured nightly on Ain't Misbehavin', breaking up the crowds of white theatergoers nightly. That same year, he recorded with small New Orleans-influenced groups, including the Hot Five, and began recording larger ensembles. Instead of doing strictly jazz numbers, OKeh began allowing Armstrong to record popular songs of the day, including "I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "Star Dust" and "Body and Soul." Armstrong's daring vocal transformations of these songs completely changed the concept of popular singing in American popular music, and had lasting effects on all singers who came after him, including Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

Career and Personal Setbacks

By 1932, Armstrong had begun appearing in movies and made his first tour of England. While he was beloved by musicians, he was too wild for most critics, who gave him some of the most racist and harsh reviews of his career. Armstrong didn't let the criticism stop him, however, and he returned an even bigger star when he began a longer tour throughout Europe in 1933. In a strange turn of events, it was during this tour that Armstrong's career fell apart: Years of blowing high notes had taken a toll on Armstrong's lips, and, following a fight with his manager, Johnny Collins—who already managed to get Armstrong into trouble with the American mob—he was left stranded overseas by Collins. Armstrong decided to take some time off soon after the incident, and spent much of 1934 relaxing in Europe and resting his lip.

When Armstrong returned to Chicago in 1935, he had no band, no engagements and no recording contract. His lips were still sore, and there were still remnants of his mob troubles and with Lil, who, following the couple's split, was suing Armstrong. He turned to Joe Glaser for help; Glaser had mob ties of his own, having been close with Al Capone, but he had loved Armstrong from the time he met him at the Sunset Café (Glaser had owned and managed the club). Armstrong put his career in Glaser's hands and asked him to make his troubles disappear. Glaser did just that; within a few months, Armstrong had a new big band and was recording for Decca Records.

African-American 'Firsts'

During this period, Armstrong set a number of African-American "firsts." In 1936, he became the first African-Amercican jazz musician to write an autobiography: Swing That Music. That same year, he became the first African-American to get featured billing in a major Hollywood movie with his turn in Pennies from Heaven, starring Bing Crosby. Additionally, he became the first African-American entertainer to host a nationally sponsored radio show in 1937, when he took over Rudy Vallee's Fleischmann's Yeast Show for 12 weeks.

Armstrong continued to appear in major films with the likes of Mae West, Martha Raye and Dick Powell. He was also a frequent presence on radio, and often broke box-office records at the height of what is now known as the "Swing Era." Armstrong's fully healed lip made its presence felt on some of the finest recordings of career, including "Swing That Music," "Jubilee" and "Struttin' with Some Barbecue."

In 1938, Armstrong finally divorced Lil Hardin and married Alpha Smith, whom he had been dating for more than a decade. Their marriage was not a happy one, however, and they divorced in 1942. That same year, Armstrong married for the fourth—and final—time; he wed Lucille Wilson, a Cotton Club dancer. When Wilson tired of living out of a suitcase during endless strings of one-nighters, she convinced Armstrong to purchase a house at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, Queens, New York. The Armstrongs moved into the home, where they would live for the rest of their lives, in 1943.

By the mid-'40s, the Swing Era was winding down and the era of big bands was almost over. Seeing "the writing on the wall," Armstrong scaled down to a smaller six-piece combo, the All Stars; personnel would frequently change, but this would be the group Armstrong would perform live with until the end of his career. Members of the group, at one time or another, included Jack Teagarden, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Sid Catlett, Barney Bigard, Trummy Young, Edmond Hall, Billy Kyle and Tyree Glenn, among other jazz legends.

Armstrong continued recording for Decca in the late 1940s and early '50s, creating a string of popular hits, including "Blueberry Hill," "That Lucky Old Sun," "La Vie En Rose," "A Kiss to Build a Dream On" and "I Get Ideas." Armstrong joined with Columbia Records in the mid-'50s, and soon cut some of the finest albums of his career for producer George Avakian, including Louis Armstrong Plays W.C. Handy and Satch Plays Fats. It was also for Columbia that Armstrong scored one of the biggest hits of his career: His jazz transformation of Kurt Weill's "Mack the Knife."

'Ambassador Satch'

During the mid-'50s, Armstrong's popularity overseas skyrocketed, leading him to be known as "Ambassador Satch." He performed all over the world in the 1950s and '60s, including throughout Europe, Africa and Asia. Legendary CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow followed Armstrong with a camera crew on some of his worldwide excursions, turning the resulting footage into a theatrical documentary, Satchmo the Great, released in 1957.

Though his popularity was hitting new highs in the 1950s, and despite breaking down so many barriers for his race and being a hero to the African-American community for so many years, Armstrong began losing his standing with two segments of his audience: Modern jazz fans and young African-Americans. Bebop, a new form of jazz, had blossomed in the 1940s. Featuring young geniuses such as Dizzy Gillespie,

Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, the younger generation of musicians saw themselves as artists, not as entertainers; they saw Armstrong's stage persona and music as old-fashioned and criticized him in the press. Armstrong fought back, but for many young jazz fans, he was regarded as an out-of-date performer with his best days behind him.

The struggle for civil rights was growing tenser with each passing year, with more protests, marches and speeches from African Americans wanting equal rights. To many young jazz listeners at the time, Armstrong's ever-smiling demeanor seemed like it was from a bygone era, and the trumpeter's refusal to comment on politics for many years only furthered perceptions that he was out of touch.

These views changed in 1957, when Armstrong saw the Little Rock Central High School integration crisis on television. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus sent in the National Guard to prevent nine African-American students from entering the school. When Armstrong saw this—as well as white protesters hurling invective at the students—he blew his top to the press, telling a reporter that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had "no guts" for letting Faubus run the country, and stating, "The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell." Armstrong's words made front-page news around the world. Though he had finally spoken out after years of remaining publicly silent, he received criticism at the time from both black and white public figures. Not a single jazz musician who had previously criticized him took his side—today, this is seen as one of the bravest, most definitive moments of Armstrong's life.

A Daughter?: Sharon Preston

Armstrong's four marriages never produced any children, and because he and wife Lucille Wilson had actively tried for years to no avail, many believed him to be sterile, incapable of having children. However, controversy regarding Armstrong's fatherhood struck in 1954, when a girlfriend that the musician had dated on the side, Lucille "Sweets" Preston, claimed she was pregnant with his child. Preston gave birth to a daughter, Sharon Preston, in 1955. Shortly thereafter, Armstrong bragged about the child to his manager, Joe Glaser, in a letter that would later be published in the book Louis Armstrong In His Own Words (1999). Thereafter until his death in 1971, however, Armstrong never publicly addressed whether he was in fact Sharon's father.

In recent years, Armstrong's alleged daughter, who now goes by the name Sharon Preston Folta, has publicized various letters between her and her father. The letters, dated as far back as 1968, prove that Armstrong had indeed always believed Sharon to be his daughter, and that he even paid for her education and home, among several other things, throughout his life.

Perhaps most importantly, the letters also detail Armstrong's fatherly love for Sharon. While only a DNA test could officially prove whether a blood relationship does exist between Armstrong and Sharon—and one has never been conducted between the two—believers and skeptics can at least agree on one thing: Sharon's uncanny resemblance to the jazz legend.

Later Career

Armstrong continued a grueling touring schedule into the late '50s, and it caught up with him in 1959, when he had a heart attack while traveling in Spoleto, Italy. The musician didn't let the incident stop him, however, and after taking a few weeks off to recover, he was back on the road, performing 300 nights a year into the 1960s.

Armstrong was still a popular attraction around the world in 1963, but hadn't made a record in two years. In December of that year, he was called into the studio to record the title number for a Broadway show that hadn't opened yet: Hello, Dolly! The record was released in 1964 and quickly climbed to the top of the pop music charts, hitting the No. 1 slot in May 1964, and knocking the Beatles off the top at the height of Beatlemania. This newfound popularity introduced Armstrong to a new, younger audience, and he continued making both successful records and concert appearances for the rest of the decade, even cracking the "Iron Curtain" with a tour of Communist countries such as East Berlin and Czechoslovakia in 1965.

In 1967, Armstrong recorded a new ballad, "What a Wonderful World." Different from most of his recordings of the era, the song features no trumpet and places Armstrong's gravelly voice in the middle of a bed of strings and angelic voices. Armstrong sang his heart out on the number, thinking of his home in Queens as he did so, but "What a Wonderful World" received little promotion in the United States. The tune did, however, become a No. 1 hit around the world, including in England and South Africa, and eventually became Armstrong's most-lasting song after it was used in the 1986 film Good Morning, Vietnam.

Final Years

By 1968, Armstrong's grueling lifestyle had finally caught up with him. Heart and kidney problems forced him to stop performing in 1969. That same year, his longtime manager, Joe Glaser, passed away. Armstrong spent much of that year at home, but managed to continue practicing the trumpet daily.

By the summer of 1970, Armstrong was allowed to perform publicly again and play the trumpet. After a successful engagement in Las Vegas, Armstrong began taking engagements around the world, including in London and Washington, D.C. and New York (he performed for two weeks at New York's Waldorf-Astoria). However, a heart attack two days after the Waldorf gig sidelined him for two months.

Armstrong returned home in May 1971, and though he soon resumed playing again and promised to perform in public once more, he died in his sleep on July 6, 1971, at his home in Queens, New York.

Legacy

Since his death, Armstrong's stature has only continued to grow. In the 1980s and '90s, younger African-American jazz musicians like Wynton Marsalis, Jon Faddis and Nicholas Payton began speaking about Armstrong's importance, both as a musician and a human being. A series of new biographies on Armstrong made his role as a civil rights pioneer abundantly clear and, subsequently, argued for an embrace of his entire career's output, not just the revolutionary recordings from the 1920s.

Armstrong's home in Corona, Queens was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977; today, the house is home to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, which annually receives thousands of visitors from all over the world. Arguably the most important figure in 20th century music, Armstrong's innovations as a trumpeter and vocalist are widely recognized today, and will continue to be for decades to come.

 

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Vanessa Bell Armstrong is one of the most powerful and influential Gospel artists in this lifetime Tags: vanessa bell armstrong true worshippers word life production feature blog

Born Vanessa Bell on October 2, 1953, in Detroit, MI; daughter of Jesse Bell, a minister; married with five children.

Singer Vanessa Bell Armstrong has been praised for her R&B-flavored contemporary gospel music and has met with success in both the gospel and secular realms. She has often been compared with another Detroit native, Aretha Franklin. At times, Armstrong has stretched so far afield of "traditional" gospel music that in the 1980s she was at times considered too contemporary for gospel. Billboard , in a 1998 review of Desire Of My Heart--"Live," wrote, "A lot has changed [since 1988] and Armstrong has stood her ground, emerging with a work that is the perfect summation of gospel's rich history and its cutting-edge presence in the mix of today's R&B music.... It took a while, but the world seems to be catching up to Armstrong."

Vanessa Bell was born in Detroit, Michigan on October 2, 1953. She was raised in the Church of God in Christ, a denomination that had nurtured other gospel greats such as BeBe and CeCe Winans, Andre Crouch, Edwin, Walter and Tramaine Hawkins, and others. In 1957, when she was four years old, Vanessa began traveling with her mother singing in various churches in the Detroit area, singing. It was clear even at that young age that she had both remarkable stage presence and the vocal control of someone considerably older.

In 1966, when she was thirteen years old, Vanessa was discovered by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Clark became her mentor. She began traveling with Clark, singing in her various choirs and sharing the stage with such gospel titans as Rev. James Cleveland, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Clark Sisters, and the Winans. Other early influences include Marion Williams, Mahalia Jackson, Inez Andrews, and Aretha Franklin. Armstrong's first recording experience was an appearance on Donald O'Connor's 1981 release, Bring Back Birdie. Her own recording career began in 1984 when, at the age of 31, she signed with the Onyx label and released Peace Be Still.

Career Took Off

In 1987 Armstrong's career took off in earnest. She beat out stiff competition--including the likes of Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle--for the chance to record the theme song for the popular television sit-com Amen. Armstrong had her Broadway debut in 1987, captivating audiences in the musical Don't Get God Started. She made a guest appearance on Tom Jones' Move Closer .

When she signed with Jive Records in 1987, Armstrong began a period of prolific recording activity. Her eponymous album, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, released in 1987, yielded the crossover R&B hit, "You Bring Out the Best in Me". Her 1990 release, Wonderful One, featured a duet, entitled, "True Love Never Fails," with Jive label-mate jazz guitarist Jonathan Butler. The track was also included on Butler's acclaimed More Than Friends album. In 1990, Jive released a CD of Armstrong's greatest hits album along with the highly praised Truth About Christmas . In 1991 Chosen was released.

The multi-talented Armstrong branched out even further afield of gospel music in the late 1980s when she appeared with Oprah Winfrey in the Women of Brewster Place, a made-for-TV movie which enjoyed widespread critical acclaim. Armstrong continued her brisk recording pace; she released Something On The Inside i n 1993 The Secret is Out in 1995, and her first live album, Desire of My Heart: "Live" in 1998. Armstrong was a featured guest on the 1995 compilation release A Tribute to Rosa Parks, and on two John P. Kee CDs, the 1994 release, Color Blind, and the 1995 release, Stand.

Continual Spiritual and Artistic Growth

Armstrong has continually expanded her horizons and her audience, performing on Broadway and releasing eclectic, contemporary albums such as Truth About Christmas, Something on the Inside, and The Secret is Out. Mainstream entertainment and her music has been praised figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Anita Baker, Luther Vandross, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Tisha Campbell; artists such as Sandra Crouch and Donna McElroy have found musical guidance and inspiration in Armstrong's music and career.

Desire of My Heart--"Live," released in 1998 on the Verity label, was recorded in Detroit's Perfecting Church, and accompanied by a live video shot during the recording session. The recording shows the spiritual and artistic growth Armstrong has undergone over the course of her career. Its title track was the first song she wrote herself. And while recording the album, Armstrong reconfirmed her life's desire, above all else, to please God. Armstrong was the record's co-producer, also a first for her.

She decided to release a live recording for two reasons: her fans had wanted one for some time, and Armstrong felt it would be a new challenge. Recording in a studio afforded her a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere; the live CD brought Armstrong's fans into the recording process and reproduced the concert experience. The CD was something of a family affair--her father, Elder Jesse Bell, contributed the track "Labor In Vain." Joining Armstrong on the live recording were the Perfected Praise Choir; Perfecting Church pastor Marvin Winans sang with Armstrong and the choir on the powerhouse track "He Is Lord."

An Enduring Classic

Armstrong's career has flourished throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and gives every indication that she will continue to challenge herself and delight listeners. Billboard 's gospel reviewer brimmed with praise for the live CD, calling it "an enduring classic." Darren K. Greggs of Love Express wrote, "It's always a pleasure to see someone continue to grow in their ministry, and that's just what sister Vanessa Bell Armstrong appears to have done. The evidence is manifested in ... Desire of My Heart--Live. Each song on this one is powerful and displays the talent that sister Vanessa returns to God in his service."

Whether singing urban contemporary ballads, secular material, powerhouse gospel tracks, or television theme songs, Broadway hits, or forging into completely new territory, Vanessa Bell Armstrong will continue to astound her fans and to test the limits of her seemingly boundless talent.

by B. Kimberly Taylor

Vanessa Bell Armstrong's Career

Began singing in various Detroit area churches at the age of four; discovered at the age of thirteen by Dr. Mattie Moss Clark; sang with gospel performers such as Rev. James Cleveland, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Clark Sisters, and the Winans as a teenager; appeared on Donald O'Connor's 1981 release, Bring Back Birdie; released Peace Be Still in 1984; released Vanessa Bell Armstrong album in 1987; recorded the theme for the television sitcom Amen in 1987; appeared in the Broadway musical Don't Get God Started in 1987; appeared on Tom Jones' Move Closer in 1988; released Wonderful One in 1990; released Greatest Hits and The Truth About Christmas in 1990; released Chosen in 1991; released Something On The Inside in 1993; released The Secret is Out in 1995; released Desire of My Heart: Live in Detroit in 1998; featured on the 1995 compilation A Tribute to Rosa Parks, on John P. Kee's 1994 release, Color Blind, and on Kee's 1995 release, Stand.

Source: Musician Guide
 
A STRONG BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS Tags: strong black women doc channel march 29 word life production feature film

BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS will broadcast on The Doc Channel on Tuesday, March 29. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/BEAHdc

Beah Richards' struggled to overcome racial stereotypes throughout her long career onstage and onscreen in Hollywood and New York, she also had an influential role in the fight for Civil Rights, working alongside the likes of Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois and Louise Patterson.

Beah Richards was an American actress of stage, screen and television. She was a poet, playwright and author.

Born Beulah Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi, her mother was a seamstress and PTA advocate and her father was a Baptist minister. In 1948, she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and two years later moved to New York City. Her career started to take off in 1955 when she portrayed an eighty-four-year-old-grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She often played the role of a mother or grandmother, and continued acting her entire life. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of Purlie Victorious, The Miracle Worker, and A Raisin in the Sun.

"There are a lot of movies out there that I would hate to be paid to do, some real demeaning, real woman-denigrating stuff. It is up to women to change their roles. They are going to have to write the stuff and do it. And they will."

Beah RichardsRichards was nominated for a Tony award for her 1965 performance in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner. She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Sidney Poitier's mother in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Other notable movie performances include Hurry Sundown, The Great White Hope, Beloved and In the Heat of the Night.

She made numerous guest television appearances including recurrent roles on The Bill Cosby Show, Sanford and Son, Designing Women, The Practice, and ER (as Dr. Peter Benton's mother.) She was the winner of two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series Frank's Place, and another in 2000 for her appearance on The Practice.

In the last year of her life, Richards was the subject of a documentary created by actress Lisa Gay Hamilton. The documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks was created from over 70 hours of their conversations. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival.

Beah Richards died from emphysema in her hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi at the age of 80.

 



 

 

 

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