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Alexia Fraser

First published: September 14, 2022


little satchmo, written and directed by John Alexander, is a gripping documentary that tells the story of Louis Armstrong’s estranged daughter, Sharon Louise Preston Folta. The documentary is narrated by Preston-Folta and is based on her memoirs. Little Satchmo.His Louis Daniel Armstrong Living in His Father’s Shadow.

The film begins with Armstrong’s rough upbringing in the New Orleans neighborhood of Battlefield. It speaks to how he didn’t have a strong father figure: Armstrong was known for his impeccable trumpet playing, musical standards like “Hello Dolly” and “What a Wonderful World,” and America’s became known as his ambassador for jazz music globally. Next, learn the story of how he met Preston-Folta’s mother, Lucille “Sweets” Preston, his vaudeville dancer from Harlem, New York. Armstrong was married to his fourth wife, Lucille Wilson, when they met. Sweets and Armstrong’s affair lasted more than 20 years and led to the birth of their child, Sharon Louise Preston. Living under extreme pressure forced him to hide his mistress and daughter from the public eye. The stories Preston-Folta tells interweave the fibers that made up her early life. I was deeply grateful to hear the personal letters and telegrams Armstrong sent to Preston-Folta and her mother. I also enjoyed listening to the voice messages he left. The Armstrong videos they use—his clips, set shots, and scores—all blend perfectly to help viewers imagine the story Preston and his Folta are telling. The stories she shares are intimate and real, filling the film with raw emotion. As the film progresses, we learn about Preston-Folta’s childhood and how having her Armstrong as her father affected her. I found this part especially moving as she talks about how she and her mother have dealt with his absence and sporadic visits. and even a collage he made labeled “Family Portraits.”


The story flows very well. Preston-Folta’s voice is soothing, cool and coherent, almost like reading a storybook. She is patient and you know this story she has been waiting for a long time. Every thought is so well thought out and calculated that it feels as if the viewer is inside Preston Folta’s mind. When she speaks, it evokes emotions in the audience and establishes a connection between Preston Folta and her audience.

This movie is not for the light of the heart. It’s the true, unfiltered story of Louis Armstrong’s estranged daughter, and it shows the trauma and scars of generations. Overall, I was very intrigued and engrossed while watching this movie. A well-made, sophisticated documentary. It maintains its subject matter throughout its runtime, with the narration consisting of well-developed thoughts and stories.This film is a must for music lovers, history buffs and anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of Louis Armstrong’s elusive life. Recommended for people. This is an educational film that shows the public, glamorous side of stardom and what happens behind closed doors when the cameras are off. This intimate story will surely surprise you and make you think a lot. It’s definitely worth a visit!

little satchmo It will be screened at the Fall 2022 New Jersey Film Festival on Sunday, September 18th.

The film will be shown online 24 hours a day, in person at 7:00 pm at Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ.

Sharon Preston-Folta attends the in-person screening for a Q&A after the screening.

To purchase tickets, please go here:

For general information about the festival, please click here.

Click here to advertise on the New Jersey stage for $50-$100 per month.

Click here to advertise on the New Jersey stage for $50-$100 per month.