Washington DC, 1 May 2023 (TDI): The United States (US) State Department celebrates International Jazz Day, recognizing jazz as a unique form of artistic expression that promotes creativity, innovation, and cultural exchange across borders.
Since the Cold War era, the State Department has utilized jazz as a tool for diplomacy through various programs like Jazz Ambassadors, Rhythm Road, Next Level, Center Stage, OneBeat, Arts Envoy, Jazz Ambassadors Redux, and American Music Abroad.
Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken emphasized the importance of cultural programming to US foreign policy, noting that American musicians captivate the world, build a sense of common purpose, and tell the American story in a way no policy or speech ever could.
Jazz diplomacy was born out of the need to connect American jazz artists directly to international artists and foreign audiences to share this music, confront false narratives, and improve the public image of the US.
Jazz Ambassadors, including Quincy Jones, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Sarah Vaughan, toured the world as cultural ambassadors. While the Voice of America broadcasted their music and message to millions more around the world through Willis Conover’s shortwave radio program.
The Jazz Ambassadors’ success while traveling abroad also focused attention on the racial inequities experienced by these artists at home, contributing to the Civil Rights era.
The State Department’s mission of promoting jazz as a tool for unity and cultural diplomacy continues today with even greater urgency, given the challenges facing the world.
As Secretary Blinken has noted, jazz has the power to inspire innovation and bring communities together in harmony. The Department sees jazz as a vehicle for promoting freedom of expression and the values that define American society at its best.
American Music Abroad and other State Department exchange programs feature jazz greats of today, such as Huntertones, Gabrielle Stravelli, Laurin Talese, and Camille Thurman.
Moreover, Jazz diplomacy is also featured in other State Department exchange programs, including the upcoming tour of legendary musician Herbie Hancock as an Arts Envoy for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Notably, Jazz Ambassadors Redux, a partnership with Quincy Jones Productions, showcases young jazz musicians and provides opportunities for international cultural exchange.
In a nutshell, celebrating International Jazz Day highlights the social power of music and the democratic system, recognizing jazz as a unique form of artistic expression that promotes cultural exchange, innovation, and a sense of common purpose across borders.
About International Jazz Day
For the information, International Jazz Day is a global celebration that takes place every year on April 30th.
Created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in 2011, this day aims to recognize the role of jazz in promoting peace, dialogue, and cultural diversity.
Through concerts, workshops, and other events, International Jazz Day highlights the power of music to bring people together, bridge differences, and inspire social change.
Also, it honors the rich history and legacy of jazz, which has become a truly global art form that continues to evolve and inspire new generations of musicians and fans around the world.