In the spring of 1951, legendary jazz musician Louis Armstrong took the stage at Bohler Gymnasium to play for Junior Prom. Tickets cost $3.25 per couple, and the theme was “Bayou Blues.”

Horace Alexander-Young.

For Horace Alexander Young, WSU associate professor of music and an accomplished musician himself, Armstrong’s visit to Pullman serves as inspiration and an important piece of the school’s past.

“WSU was taking the lead on bringing people of color to campus over more than 100 years of history,” said Young, who earned his MA at WSU in 1983. “It’s really exciting to look back on that history.”

It’s fitting that Armstrong was the first of the three music icons to visit WSU. He’s considered one of the fathers of jazz, and helped take the style from a regional sound to an international phenomenon.

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