Film Shares Story Of Louis Armstrong's Secret Daughter, A FL Resident

DUNEDIN, FL — “Little Satchmo,” a documentary about Louis Armstrong’s secret daughter, will be shown Friday evening as part of the Dunedin International Film Festival.

The movie shares the story of Sharon Preston-Folta and her family, which kept the secret about her famous jazz musician father from the world.

The film will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at HOB Brewing Company in Dunedin.

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Though her father hid her from the world, she realized later in life she wanted their story told and was tired of living with the secret, Preston-Folta told those attending a screening of the film Tuesday at the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg.

The project started as a memoir of the same name that she began working on when she turned 50.

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“I realized that I was at a place in my life where I needed to start thinking about my legacy and for all of my life I had lived with the secret — not a secret to me or my family or close friends — but the secret to the public that Louis Armstrong was my father,” she said.

For much of her life, her mother “would have gone to the grave” with the secret, Preston-Folta added. “She felt first of all that my father did all that he could do and that it was our business not to be in the public … She really guarded this.”

This “gnawed at” Preston-Folta over the years, who eventually realized she wanted to leave a different legacy for her own grandchildren.

“I did get to the place where I realized that it is my story. I had the right to tell it,” she said. “My parents did what they needed to do and it was my time to do what I needed to do.”

The film’s story is told through interviews with Preston-Folta, who was also an executive producer and writer for the documentary, as well as letters and audio recordings from her father and family photos.

“What I realized was that we were a family no matter how broken or disconnected or strange that it was. We loved each other. There was a love,” she said. “The circumstances were tough, but we were a family and … he communicated to us through letters, through audio.”

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