Cultural Percussionist

Valaida Snow Day

Valaida Snow (June 2, 1904 – May 30, 1956) was an African-American jazz musician and entertainer.

She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Raised on the road in a show-business family, she learned to play cello, bass, banjo, violin, mandolin, harp, accordion, clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone by the time she was 15. She also sang and danced.

Valaida Snow appeared in a Swedish advertisement when she toured Scandinavia.

After focusing on the trumpet, she quickly became so famous at the instrument that she was named “Little Louis” after Louis Armstrong, who called her the world’s second best jazz trumpet player besides himself. Contemporary critics Krin Gabbard and Will Friedwald have commented on her approach to playing like Armstrong. Gabbard said she developed a “distinctly Armstrongian style” and Friedwald said she “mimicked” Armstrong. In a 1928 performance in Chicago at the Sunset Café, Snow played the trumpet, sang. Then seven pairs of shoes were placed in a row at the front of the stage, and she danced in each pair for one chorus. The dances and shoes to match were: soft-shoe, adagio shoes, tap shoes, Dutch clogs, Chinese straw sandals, Turkish slippers, and the last pair, Russian boots. “When Louis Armstrong saw the show one night, he continued clapping after others had stopped and remarked, ‘Boy I never saw anything that great’.

 

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