Sharon Preston was born on June 24, 1955, in Harlem, New York, and was believed by jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong to be his daughter, the offspring of a relationship with dancer Lucille "Sweets" Preston. Armstrong gave financial support to the Prestons both before and after his death, though Sharon would have no claim to the estate. In 2012, she revealed her family history and published a memoir.
Connection to Louis Armstrong
Sharon Preston was born on June 24, 1955, in Harlem, New York. Her mother was Lucille Preston and her father is said to be Louis Armstrong, considered by many to be the greatest jazz trumpeter in history. Armstrong is one of the genre's foremost pioneers while also making major contributions to the American songbook as a vocalist.
Armstrong and Lucille "Sweets" Preston met during the 1940s while Lucille worked with her then-husband Luther "Slim" Preston as the dancing duo Slim and Sweets. The trumpeter performed with and befriended the couple, and, after Luther died from cancer, Armstrong and "Sweets" started to have a romantic relationship.
Sharon revealed to Armstrong that she was pregnant in 1954, with the musician highly excited at the prospect of having a child, whom he referred to as his "Little Satchmo." ("Satchmo" was a popular nickname used for himself by Armstrong.)
By the time Sharon was 7, Armstrong had bought a house in Mt. Vernon, New York, for her and her mother. Mother and daughter also sometimes joined Armstrong on tour. Though initially promising to leave his wife Lucille Armstrong for Lucille Preston, Armstrong never did. He and Lucille Preston had a major fight in 1967 over the state of their relationship and Sharon saw him only one time after that, at a 1968 Manhattan performance. At the behest of her mother, Sharon kept her relationship to Armstrong a secret.
In high school, Sharon was a multi-instrumentalist and had also developed a passion for cuisine, later going on to study culinary arts. She and her mother found out about Armstrong's death via television when Sharon was 16. They received savings bonds from Armstrong's office for a time after his passing, while Lucille Armstrong signed an affidavit that the musician had no children, which thereby eliminated any potential claims the younger Preston could have to his estate.
Works in Media
Sharon went on to study marketing in college and eventually relocated to Sarasota, Florida. She forged a career in radio advertising, eventually working as a media sales executive. She has also married, becoming Preston-Folta, and had a son.
Auctions Letters, Writes Memoir
Sharon decided to reveal her identity after soul searching about her past and becoming a grandmother. She put up for auction the series of letters that Armstrong had written to her mother, which had been referred to in previous biographical works, and conducted media interviews.
Armstrong was married four times and known for having many affairs. As such, with no other reports of children being born, it was believed by wife Lucille and certain biographers that he was sterile. Nonetheless, Sharon has asserted that her mother was faithful to Armstrong during their time together, and, with Lucille Preston not having any other children, that the two saw Sharon as their "miracle child." Of the information presented thus far via the letters--which have been verified as authentic--it is clear that Armstrong believed Sharon to be his daughter. There is also a notable physical resemblance between the two.
In December, 2012, Armstrong's letters to Lucille Preston were sold online and via telephone. During the same time Sharon also published the memoir Little Satchmo: Living in the Shadow of My Father Louis Daniel Armstrong, with journalist and author Denene Millner serving as co-writer.
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