Louis Prima

marriages

Louis Leo Prima (December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978)[1] was an American singer, songwriter, bandleader, and trumpeter. While rooted in New Orleans jazz, swing music, and jump blues, Prima touched on various genres throughout his career: he formed a seven-piece New Orleans-style jazz band in the late 1920s, fronted a swing combo in the 1930s and a big band group in the 1940s, helped to popularize jump blues in the late 1940s and early to mid 1950s, and performed frequently as a Vegas lounge act beginning in the 1950s.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, his music further encompassed early R&B and rock 'n' roll, boogie-woogie, and Italian folk music, such as the tarantella. Prima made prominent use of Italian music and language in his songs, blending elements of his Italian and Sicilian identity with jazz and swing music. At a time when ethnic musicians were often discouraged from openly stressing their ethnicity, Prima's conspicuous embrace of his Sicilian ethnicity opened the doors for other Italian-American and ethnic American musicians to display their ethnic roots.

Louis Leo Prima[3] was from a musical Italian American family in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father, Anthony Prima, was the son of Leonardo Di Prima, a Sicilian immigrant from Salaparuta, while his mother, Angelina Caravella, had immigrated from Ustica as a baby.[4] Prima was the second child of four; his older brother, Leon, was born in 1907, while his sisters Elizabeth and Marguerite were younger. Marguerite died when she was three years old. Leon, Louis, and Elizabeth were all baptized at St. Ann's Parish. They lived in a house at 1812 St. Peter Street in New Orleans.