American musical royalty trumpeter Louis Armstrong may never have played in Chattanooga, but his memory will be celebrated this month at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

The Roland Hayes Concert Hall will host a one-night performance of “A Tuff Shuffle: Backstage with Louis Armstrong” on Friday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

In a partnership between the Bessie Smith Cultural Center and the Ruth S. Holmberg Chair of American Music, the play is free and open to the public.


Featuring stage actor Danny Mullen, who also wrote the play, the one-man show spotlights the later part of the musician’s life, in particular the year 1957 in Grand Forks, N.D.

Armstrong receives fans and dignitaries alike from the comfort of his dressing room, where he made a habit of retiring after a show. The play uses the second-show-esque atmosphere and Armstrong’s interactions with his guests to peel back the layers of the musician’s life.

Mullen’s play chronicles the rise of a musician from poverty to international fame, while also retelling pieces of America’s musical and racial history.

“Backstage with Louis Armstrong” features musical numbers as well. The play premiered at San Francisco’s Black Repertory Group Theatre and has had runs in New Orleans, Brooklyn, Buffalo and most recently in 2012 at the Theatre of the American South.

The Roland Hayes Concert Hall is located in the UTC Fine Arts Center at 736 Vine St.