Louis Armstrong foundation launches $1M COVID-19 fund for jazz musicians

“The entire jazz ecosystem has been shut down, and the jazz community is devastated,” said the president of Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation.
Image: Louis Armstrong performs at NBC Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1967.
Louis Armstrong performs at NBC Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1967.David Redfern / Getty Images file

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By Wilson Wong

The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation has launched a $1 million relief fund to aid freelance jazz musicians in New York City who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, The Louis Armstrong Emergency Fund for Jazz Musicians, announced by the organization’s board of directors last week, will award each recipient a one-time grant of $1,000.

Wynton Marsalis, the foundation’s president and artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center, said that closing jazz venues had left many musicians with no steady income.

Wynton Marsalis performs during the Ellis Marsalis Family Tribute at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, on April 28, 2019, in New Orleans, La.Amy Harris / Invision/AP file

“The entire jazz ecosystem has been shut down, and the jazz community is devastated,” Marsalis said. “To mitigate some of the loss, this fund will award an unprecedented $1,000,000 to assist qualifying musicians in need.”

The organization was founded in 1969 by Louis and Lucille Armstrong to support jazz musicians, performances and educational programming. Armstrong, known as “Pops,” was a trumpeter, composer and musician whose prolific career spanned five decades. He died in 1971 at the age of 69.

Musicians can apply for the fund until Monday evening, the foundation’s website said.

“This is a very large fund for an institution of our size,” said Marsalis. “But we are doing what we know ‘Pops’ would do.”