Armstrong said while her mother was pregnant, she had a vision of herself and Armstrong in darkness. And Armstrong’s mother said to God, “Show me how me and my child can get out of this darkness.”
And in the vision, God replied, “Promise me the little one will follow in his footsteps.” Armstrong’s father was a pastor and it was his footsteps to which God referred.
“So I was going to have a ministry for singing,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, said she first sang at her father’s church when she was 4, a feat that came easy to her.
“I had a pretty big voice,” Armstrong said. “It was history. It came true. I was a little girl able to sing. I was chosen to do this. I had that will. My mom and dad never had to make me sing. My punishment if I acted up was not singing. That hurt me more than a whooping.”
According to Armstrong’s biography on the Rialto Square Theatre website, Armstrong was just 13 years old when Mattie Moss Clark (mother of the renowned gospel group, The Clark Sisters), a pioneer in gospel began mentoring to Armstrong, who then started traveling with Clark.
Her biography also called her a trailblazer in gospel music,” because Armstrong brought a “strong R&B style to the songs she sang.”
In fact, Armstrong said she sang so much, she nearly damaged her voice. She recalled having trouble when performing on Broadway and consulting a doctor, who told her that if she wanted to keep singing after her Broadway stint was done, to give the voice a rest.
Armstrong ignored him.
“I kept going. And it was OK,” Armstrong said. “It finally healed.”
Another challenge occurred five years ago when Armstrong lost both her mother and only son in just nine months.
“I know they say grieving can kill you. It actually too my voice. I did not want to sing. I wasn’t taking engagements,” Armstrong said. “I finally realized God wasn’t going to bring them back and I had to keep going. I have four girls still here and I’ve got 12 grandchildren and all of them sing and they look t me as their hero, so I said, “I’ve got to live. And then my voice came back, stronger than ever, really.”
Armstrong feels very fortunate.
“A lot of people don’t know what their calling is, what their gift is, what their reason for being on this earth is,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said raising five children as singer was also challenging, even though she stayed connected with her kids and brought presents they would enjoy, such as a robot for her son, who was so smart he never had to study for exams, and her daughters, who loved clothes.
She recalled one out of sorts day at an airport.