With his instantly recognizable rich, gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and skillful improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song. He was also skilled at scat singing. By the end of Armstrong's life, his influence had spread to popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first popular African-American entertainers to "cross over" to wide popularity with white (and international) audiences. He rarely publicly politicized his race, to the dismay of fellow African Americans, but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation in the Little Rock crisis. He was able to access the upper echelons of American society at a time when this was difficult for black men.