Music Is My Life is the first comprehensive analysis of Louis Armstrong's autobiographical writings (including his books, essays, and letters) and their relation to his musical and visual performances. Combining approaches from autobiography theory, literary criticism, intermedia studies, cultural history, and musicology, Daniel Stein reconstructs Armstrong's performances of his life story across various media and for different audiences, complicating the monolithic and hagiographic views of the musician.
The book will appeal to academic readers with an interest in African American studies, jazz studies, musicology, and popular culture, as well as general readers interested in Armstrong's life and music, jazz, and twentieth-century entertainment. While not a biography, it provides a key to understanding Armstrong's oeuvre as well as his complicated place in American history and twentieth-century media culture.
"As the discipline now known as 'The New Jazz Studies' continues to develop, Stein's book will surely stand as an exemplary text."
—Krin Gabbard, author of Hotter than That: The Trumpet, Jazz, and American Culture
"Stein's approach to Armstrong's autobiographics is inspiring, fascinating, and compelling. I really think that he has opened up new ground in the field of jazz autobiography that others will follow."
—Jon Panish, author of The Color of Jazz: Race and Representation in Postwar American Culture
Cover photograph by Dennis Stock, courtesy of Magnum Photos