US secretary of state Antony Blinken fell back on the American blues legend Muddy Waters to launch a worldwide initiative to elevate music as a diplomatic tool to promote peace and democracy by playing the guitar and singing his iconic song 'Hoochie Coochie Man' at the state department.
The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative aims to support the US’ broader foreign policy goals, notes a fact sheet issued by the US Department of State on Wednesday. The initiative also aims to leverage public-private partnerships to create a music ecosystem that expands economic equity and the creative economy, ensures societal opportunity and inclusion, and increases access to education.
“I couldn’t pass up tonight’s opportunity to combine music and diplomacy. Was a pleasure to launch @StateDept’s new Global Music Diplomacy Initiative,” the US State Secretary wrote on ‘X’ formerly Twitter on Thursday, also sharing a video of him singing, playing the guitar.
At the launch event, Secretary Blinken was joined by Harvey Mason, Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy; Lyor Cohen, global head of music for YouTube and Google; and David M. Rubenstein, chairman of the board at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The event featured live performances by Jamie Barton, GAYLE, Dave Grohl, Mickey Guyton, Herbie Hancock, Christopher Jackson, LADAMA, Aimee Mann, Rakim, Armani White and DJ 2-Tone as well as a video message from Bono.
In addition, Mason and Secretary Blinken awarded Quincy Jones the first-ever Peace through Music Award. The award, a collaboration between the Department and the Academy, recognizes an American music industry professional, artist or group who has played a key role in cross-cultural exchanges and whose music work advances peace and mutual understanding globally, according to Billboard.
The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative will build on current public diplomacy music programs to create public-private partnerships with American companies and non-profits to use music to meet the moment, convey American leadership globally, and create connections with people worldwide.
Secretary Blinken also announced the American Music Mentorship Program, the Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar Award in Arts and Science, and efforts to bring American music and lyrics into classrooms across the world as part of the United States’ investment in English-language learning worldwide.
The American Music Mentorship Program, a partnership between the US Department of State and the Recording Academy, will bring international mid-career music industry professionals, which may include musical artists, to the US for mentorship and networking opportunities, with an aim to cultivate a professional music industry ecosystem locally and globally, to support creative talent, and to strengthen the creative economy globally, as per the fact sheet.
The Fulbright Program, the US’ flagship international academic exchange program, will collaborate with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to create a new fellowship opportunity for foreign scholars.
The department will also incorporate music into its existing USD 40 million investment in English-language learning worldwide, including through exchanges, curriculum, and scholarships to provide access to English-learning classes for promising students between the ages of 13 and 20, according to the fact sheet.