Video: Derrick Baskin, Daniel J. Watts and Brett Williams in ARMSTRONG NOW Initiative – “Pure Imagination” / “What a Wonderful World”

Derrick Baskin. Photo by Lia Chang

The Louis Armstrong House Museum latest video release “Pure Imagination” / “What a Wonderful World” is a scene from the Armstrong Now! commission “Between His House and His Home” featuring Tony nominees Derrick Baskin (Ain’t Too Proud),  Daniel J Watts (TINA), accompanied by Brett Williams.

“There is no greater honor than to be able to say THANK YOU to Louis Armstrong who’s paved the way for me to do what I do. To be able to look at the inner workings of greatness is nothing short of inspiring and an experience I will not soon forget,”  shared Derrick Baskin.

In its inaugural season, contemporary Black artists respond to Louis Armstrong in an integrative video series that launched in October on the museum’s website and YouTube, and will continue through December 31, 2020, culminating in a series of live online discussions. Armstrong Now provides museum-quality programming that promotes equity, access and inclusion to a wider audience outside of its Queens community.

Inspired by the newly digitized archives of Louis Armstrong and the LAHM research collections, four groups of renowned contemporary artists, with the help of filmmaker Ben Stamper, and artistic producer Jake Goldbas have created original short films exploring their respective artforms from spoken word to dance. Each piece is intended to reacquaint audiences everywhere with Louis Armstrong’s legacy of artistry and innovation. New programming content will be released each week, beginning with today’s trailer release and ending in the last week of 2020. Armstrong Now was initially brought forth by Kenyon Adams, former Director of the Museum, and turned into a reality by Jake Goldblas, Artistic Director of Programs at Louis Armstrong House Museum & Archives.

Through a nuanced engagement with the Armstrong home and Archives, notable Black artists delve into the complexities of Louis Armstrong and what he represents to culture, responding with new work that encapsulates their own journey. The collaborations, which draw from different art disciplines and synthesize into one cohesive body of work, were filmed in and around the Louis Armstrong House Museum. The immediacy of each short film’s environment allows viewers to revel in the beauty of the artists’ work while appreciating the deep history of the museum.

Click here to learn more about the initiative.

Daniel J Watts – Broadway actor Watts received a Tony nomination for his  star turn as Ike in the hit broadway musical TINA and has appeared in nine Broadway shows including Hamilton, Memphis and After Midnight.

Derrick Baskin – Baskin is a Tony-nominated Broadway actor best known for his role as Otis Williams in “Ain’t Too Proud” and Mitch Mahoney in “Comfort Counselor.”

Brett Williams – In addition to playing piano, Williams is a singer and songwriter who worked on the Grammy-nominated album Laid Back. Williams has performed with respected artists and musicians including Stevie Wonder, Ms. Lauryn Hill, and Billy Joel.

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs.

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