Valaida Snow was born on June 2nd, 1904 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her love for music started when her father, minister and leader of the Pickaninny Troubadours, took her and her family on the road to begin performing at age five. By the time she turned fifteen, Snow could eloquently play cello, banjo, bass, mandolin, harp, violin, accordion, clarinet, saxophone and trumpet. Needless to say, Snow is quite the musical prodigy.
Snow’s solo career was jumpstarted by her debut in the “Holiday in Dixieland” revue. She soon was picked up to be in the musical “In Bamville” along side French film star and activist, Josephine Baker. Snow realized that she wanted to focus her career on being a trumpeter. She became so famous for playing the instrument, and coined the nickname “Little Louis” comparing her to the talents of Louis Armstrong.
Snow was a very talented musician, but it is also important to note that she was an equally gifted singer and dancer. She was considered a triple threat when it comes to talent. Snow worked with small bands that helped her gain popularity with the jazz scene. She also gained popularity from her performances with more popular musicians such as Ethel Waters and The Mills Brothers. W.C. Handy, also known as the Father of the Blues gave her the name “Queen of the Trumpet” while Louis Armstrong called her the second best jazz trumpet player, besides himself. When she was touring in Denmark during WWII, Nazi soldiers imprisoned her in a Copenhagen jail. Unfortunately, after this misfortunate event, she was never able to regain her former popularity.
Sadly, Snow died of a brain hemorrhage backstage during a performance at the Palace Theater in New York City. Although she is no longer living, her memory and legacy lives on. Some say that Snow was an important figure in terms of spreading the jazz craze to Europe. Her popularity helped change the image of jazz music from the early Dixieland style to something more modern and meaningful.
Thesis Statement: Valaida Snow was a triple threat jazz musician who was able to change a whole genres image in a matter of a decade. Women like her are noted for their talents and contributions to the world because of the hard work that they put in for those contributions to last throughout history.