Kelle Jolly, Chris Durman and Sean McCollough will present a music-filled presentation on the life of Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong.

Kelle Jolly, Chris Durman and Sean McCollough will present a music-filled presentation on the life of Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong. 

Join Pellissippi State Community College in celebrating the life and art of Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, an “Appalachian Original.” 

The event, hosted by Pellissippi State Libraries Appalachian Heritage Project, will be held 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, on Zoom. While the celebration of the internationally acclaimed musician, painter and storyteller from Campbell County, Tennessee, is free and open to the public, those interested are encouraged to register in advance to receive an email with instructions about joining the webinar. 

Armstrong (1909-2003) is renowned for a lifetime of playing jazz, blues, folk and country music. Along with his mastery of 22 musical instruments and seven foreign languages, Armstrong is considered one of the nation’s finest Black string-band musicians, having received the National Education Association’s National Heritage Fellowship and the Tennessee Governor’s Folk Heritage Award. 

“Music is intrinsic to life in Appalachia, and this event is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the work and legacy of Howard ‘Louis Bluie’ Armstrong,” said Mary Ellen Spencer, dean of Library Services. 

The April 20 celebration will be led by musicians and educators Sean McCollough, Kelle Jolly and Chris Durman, who will discuss Armstrong’s life and influences as well as his impact on the music of the United States and his significance to the Appalachian region. A Q&A will follow their presentation.  

Durman is an associate professor and coordinator of the George F. DeVine Music Library at the University of Tennessee. Jolly, “The Tennessee Ukulele Lady,” is a music entertainer and educator who shares stories and songs from the South, including traditional African American music of blues, jazz, spirituals and folk. McCollough is a musicologist, musician, producer and festival organizer who teaches Appalachian Music, the History of Rock and Introduction to Western Music at UT. All three are involved in organizing and performing in the annual Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival at Cove Lake State Park in Campbell County. 

Howard ‘Louie Bluie’ Armstrong was a truly unique individual, but he was also representative of the diversity, talent and creativity that have long characterized the people of Appalachia — defying many of the stereotypes that still exist today,” said McCollough.  “I hope that as people learn about Armstrong, they will begin to move beyond the stereotypes and be inspired to be their own ‘Appalachian original.’” 

Celebrating Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, an Appalachian Original is part of Pellissippi State Libraries Appalachian Heritage Project, which is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Project offers quarterly programming and scheduled exhibits that support the enhancement of the Appalachian Collection, which will move to the new Strawberry Plains Campus library when it opens in fall 2022.  

For more information about this event or the Appalachian Heritage Project, contact Strawberry Plains Campus Librarian Allison McKittrick at