Thursday, March 3
At Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center in Sarasota
“Little Satchmo” chronicles the life of Louis Armstrong as told through the eyes of his secret offspring and only documented child, Sharon Preston-Folta. The documentary is adapted from her 2012 memoir, “Little Satchmo: Living In the Shadow of My Father, Louis Daniel Armstrong.”
“On June 24, 1955, Louis Armstrong became a father. Lucille Preston became a single mom. And I, Sharon Louise Preston, became invisible.”
(February 3, 2022; Sarasota, FL) To the world, Louis Armstrong is iconic — a symbol of musical genius, unparalleled success, and unassailable character. To Sarasota resident, author, and broadcast host, Sharon Preston-Folta, he was simply Dad. Despite the intense scrutiny and praise of Armstrong’s life and career, almost no one knew he had a child. In 2012, Preston-Folta published her memoir, “Living In the Shadow Of My Father, Louis Daniel Armstrong,” which revealed her secret: Preston-Folta was the offspring of Armstrong and his mistress of over two decades, Lucille “Sweets” Preston, a vaudeville dancer from Harlem. “Little Satchmo,” narrated by Preston-Folta and adapted from her book, has taken the international film festival circuit by storm. The hour-long feature documentary, made for public television, intimately shares her story and reveals the previously unknown history of Satchmo’s life as a family man and father. The regional premiere of “Little Satchmo” is Thursday, March 3, 7 p.m., at Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center, 525 Kumquat Court in Sarasota. The evening will include a Q&A with Preston-Folta and filmmakers Lea Umberger, JC Guest and John Alexander, in addition to a presentation by Truly Valued, a local nonprofit that advocates for, provides services for, and empowers adolescent girls. Preston-Folta’s book will be available for purchase at the screening. Tickets are $10 (without the book)
; and $20 (with the book). Part of the proceeds will benefit Truly Valued and Fogartyville. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://wslr.org/event/film-screening-little-satchmo/. For more information about the documentary, “Little Satchmo,” visit www.littlesatchmodoc.com.
“Having my memoir become a documentary is not only a dream come true, it allows my story to connect with a larger audience,” says Preston-Folta.
The film was directed by John Alexander (“This Is Love”) and made a sold-out world premiere at the Oscar-qualifying Thessaloniki Documentary Festival in Greece, followed by critically acclaimed North America debuts at the American Black Film Festival, AARP Movies for Grownups, and Toronto’s Hot Docs’ Doc Soup Film Series. “Little Satchmo” comes to Fogartyville after a busy winter on the festival circuit, including the opening night feature for Denton Black Film Festival, a Serbian premiere at Dok#4 Festival in Belgrade, as well as screenings at the Beaufort International Film Festival in South Carolina, the Blue Ridge Film Festival in Georgia and the online American Legacy Festival from Mt Vernon, N.Y., where Sharon and her mother used to reside, thanks to Satchmo. The Through Women’s Eyes festival in Sarasota has also announced Little Satchmo as an official selection.
Alexander says that “Little Satchmo” seeks “not only to bring voice to a daughter rendered invisible, but also to reveal a deeper, more human dimension to this American icon, who despite the public’s fandom, has long foundered in stereotype and caricature.”
Alexander adds that, while this documentary undeniably centers around Louis Armstrong, it’s told from his daughter’s perspective and seen through her eyes—as a child growing into a woman. For more than half a century, she continued to keep the family secret, living her life hiding in the shadows of her father’s fame. “Sharon’s search for truth, and her father’s love, amplifies a voice amid the millions of children who have grown up in single-parent households, yearning to find their own identity, validity, and heritage. ‘Little Satchmo’ is an extraordinary and overdue tale of identity, loss, and one daughter’s ultimate search for truth—and her father’s love.”
“Little Satchmo” was produced by JC Guest and Lea Umberger, is executive produced by Sharon Preston-Folta, Emily Bonavia and Susan Houston, and features original music with Wycliffe Gordon from Emmy/Grammy winner and nominee, composer Eddie Korvin. It was filmed in Sarasota, New Orleans, and New York City.
John Alexander is an award-winning film director and editor who co-owns and operates the production company and post-production house Crook & Nanny Productions with JC Guest. Crook & Nanny offers full production and post-production services for narrative, documentary, commercial and industrial projects, both short form and feature length, and specialize in seeing high-quality independent films to completion, with an emphasis on framing unique voices in a timely landscape. After graduating from Harvard, Alexander and Guest’s feature debut, “Bender,” a thriller on America’s first serial killing family, won a Golden Strands award for Outstanding Cast before being distributed in North America, Asia, Africa and Europe to cult status. As an encore, their documentary, “This Is Love,” winner of the Raindance Spirit Award and Best International Documentary in Rome, broke attendance records screening at 50 international film festivals, where it won numerous top prizes, including recognition of service from various cities, counties, states and countries around the world. Alexander and Guest are currently in pre-production on a Los Angeles produced thriller-horror feature for Casadelic Pictures.
Sharon Preston-Folta has spent more than 30 years in advertising sales and marketing, predominantly as an account executive in radio. She’s worked with such companies as Fairchild Publications and WLNY TV in Long Island, and ABC/Disney and CBS Radio and Emmis Communications in New York City. She is currently senior account executive with WUSF Public Media and serves as a volunteer programmer at WSLR 96.5 FM in Sarasota, where she resides with her husband, Howard Folta, a musician.
For more information about “Little Satchmo,” visit www.littlesatchmodoc.com.
- · Little Satchmo: Sharon looking at pictures of her father Louis Armstrong: Sharon Preston-Folta looking at pictures of her father, Louis Armstrong. Image courtesy of Little Satchmo Documentary LLC, copyright 2021.
- Sharon Preston-Folta looks at a family portrait collage created by her father, Louis Armstrong. Image courtesy Little Satchmo Documentary LLC, copyright 2021.
- Photo collage of Louis Armstrong: A signed photo, sent to Sharon Preston-Folta, from her father, Louis Armstrong. Image courtesy of Little Satchmo Documentary LLC, copyright 2021.
- Behind the scenes with director John Alexander at the camera and Sharon Preston-Folta. Image courtesy of Little Satchmo Documentary LLC, copyright 2021.
- Sharon Folta: Sharon Folta is Little Satchmo.