‘Little Satchmo’ – film about Louis Armstrong’s daughter – wins EMMY

The PBS documentary ‘Little Satchmo’, written and directed edited by John Alexander, and based on the 2012 memoir “Little Satchmo: Living in the Shadow of my Father Louis Daniel Armstrong” by Sharon Preston-Folta and Denene Millner, has just won the Southeast EMMY Award for Outstanding Historical Documentary at a ceremony in Atlanta. In the film, Sharon Preston-Folta (b.1955) tells her story of how the facts surrounding Louis Armstrong‘s fathering of a child remained a secret... until relatively recently.

Sebastian writes: “Little Satchmo” is a very different movie indeed from the recent “Louis Armstrong’s Black and Blues”, directed by Sacha Jenkins. The Jenkins movie has a very public agenda, reinforcing the message that Armstrong was engaged in the civil rights movement, despite appearances which are ambivalent to say the least, and also gives us a fairly comprehensive playlist of the hits. “Little Satchmo”, on the other hand, is one woman’s personal story about purportedly being loved as a daughter.. but also kept invisible.

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Armstrong sent Preston-Folta’s mother Lucille ‘Sweets’ Preston regular audio recordings from the 1960’s on cassette tapes. He would sign them of as “your future husband…” It was never to be.

These recordings, Preston-Folta’s own testimony as the “shadow of man who shaped me”, plus her own feelings of love and hope, and also disappointment and bitterness, form the material of the story which is told in a focused, balanced and naturally flowing way. Recommended.

There is much more in a detailed and well-researched feature for The Times by John Bungey, curtain-raising for the film’s first showing on TV in the UK at the end of May (link below)

(Full text of press release begins)

[ATLANTA, Georgia] – Music and cultural icon Louis Armstrong reveals a new side of personal life vis a vis his secret daughter in acclaimed PBS film Little Satchmo, winner of the Southeast EMMY Award for Outstanding Historical Documentary. Sharon Preston-Folta comes forward in the documentary after living closely in the shadows of her father, unveiling a family and their relationship that was kept entirely invisible for more than 50 years.

The feature documentary is the Season Premiere of PBS Reel South Season 7, running nationally on television in the USA, in theaters and at film festivals in North America, Europe, and Asia. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Southeast Chapter, has named Little Satchmo the one winner out of five titles nominated for the Best Historical Documentary
EMMY. The winner of the EMMY was announced at the 49th Annual Emmy Awards Gala in Atlanta on Sat June 17th and presented to director John Alexander and producer JC Guest.

Little Satchmo is based on Preston-Folta’s memoir of the same title, detailing how Sharon, the product of a two-decade love affair between Satchmo and Harlem dancer Lucille ‘Sweets’ Preston, had no option but to harbor and conceal her identity for decades before making it public.

Prior to its Emmy win, Little Satchmo made a sold-out world premiere at Oscar-qualifying Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece followed by critically acclaimed debuts at the American Black Film Festival, Toronto’s Hot Docs’ Doc Soup Film Series, the Oscar-qualifying Krakow Film Festival and via AARP’s “Movies for Grownups” series, in addition to dozens of international festivals worldwide, picking up top prizes in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan, and the USA. PBS International handles the film’s global release, with national television broadcasts in the UK, New Zealand, Italy, in addition to the USA and other territories.


Director John Alexander and producer JC Guest previously made record-breaking and multi award-winning Rudy Love documentary This Is Love and award-winning cult thriller Bender. Little Satchmo is also produced by the late Lea Umberger, and executive produced by Sharon Preston-Folta, Emily Bonavia and Susan Houston. Ann Garvey, Muriel Minot, Terrence Beasor, Lindsey Hall, Jenn & Tom Cotter and Michael & Suzy Valentino are co- and associate producers with two-time Emmy nominee Shawn Rhodes. The film features narration by John Boutté and original music with Wycliffe Gordon from Emmy/Grammy winner and nominee, composer Eddie Korvin.

Crook & Nanny is a film production company dedicated to framing unique voices in a
timely landscape. For more information, visit:

(Press Release ends )

LINKS: Times feature by John Bungey including interview with Sharon Preston -Folta (£-walled)

Little Satchmo documentary website

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