Quincy Jones received the inaugural Peace Through Music Award from the State Department and The Recording Academy.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken launched the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative on Wednesday (Sept. 27), a worldwide effort to elevate music as a diplomatic tool to promote peace and democracy.
The launch event was held at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. 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.
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.
Jones has won 28 Grammy Awards, the third highest tally of all-time behind Beyoncé and classical conductor Sir Georg Solti. In addition, he has received several high-profile honors from the Recording Academy: a trustees award in 1989, the Grammy Legends Award in 1991 and MusiCares’ Person of the Year award in 1996. His non-Grammy honors include the Jean Hersholt Award from the Motion Picture Academy in 1994 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.
The event culminated with several announcements that, it is hoped, will shape the future of music diplomacy, ranging from public-private partnerships with American music industry leaders to educational opportunities for youth globally.
The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative builds on the bipartisan PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year. It will augment current U.S. efforts that consist of various public diplomacy exchange programs using music as a diplomatic tool, including American Music Abroad, Arts Envoy, Center Stage, Next Level and OneBeat.
Several of the initiatives announced on Wednesday were collaborations with The Recording Academy. “From advocating for the Peace Through Music Diplomacy Act in 2022, to partnering with the U.S. State Department on the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative, the Academy firmly believes that music’s transformative power can be a global force for good,” Mason said in a statement. “We’re honored to begin our work with the State Department to promote peace and cross-cultural understanding through music while continuing our mission to lift up music people around the globe.”
“Music reminds us that we have more in common than what separates us,” Cohen added. “It heals us. It unites us. It gets us hyped. … For centuries, music has helped fuel important social and cultural movements. Artists like Aretha Franklin, John Lennon, Kendrick Lamar, and so many more have written songs that bring people together to create understanding and drive peace. This initiative creates a new avenue for us to raise their voices and drive global music diplomacy forward; breaking down cultural barriers and fostering peace through music.”
The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative launch announcements include:
American Music Mentorship Program
This program, a partnership between the U.S. Department of State and The Recording Academy, will bring international mid-career music industry professionals, who may include musical artists, to the United States for mentorship and networking opportunities. The first program will be held in the fall of 2024.
The initiative was developed pursuant to the PEACE Through Music Diplomacy Act, which was championed by The Recording Academy in 2022 at Grammys on the Hill and during the annual grassroots District Advocate Day. The legislation was passed into law in December 2022.
Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar Award in Arts and Science
The Fulbright Program, the United States’ 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 new Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar Award in Arts and Science will focus on the intersection of the arts and science, including how the arts can contribute to individual and global health and well-being and the environment. An award competition will be announced this fall, and the Kennedy Center will host the first scholar in academic year 2024-25.
Boosting English-Language Learning Through Music
Recognizing the strategic importance of English-language learning overseas, especially for youth and underserved communities, the Department will incorporate music into its existing $40 million investment in English-language learning worldwide to provide access to English-learning classes for promising students between the ages of 13 and 20.
The Department will augment broader global English-language learning by supporting Sing Out Loud, a program that provides resources for teaching English through music in collaboration with American Music Abroad, bringing music and lyrics into classrooms across the world.
In addition to the Secretary’s announcements, the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative will include programming around the world, including:
Arts Envoys to Travel to the Middle East, People’s Republic of China
Hancock, along with Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Ensemble at UCLA, will perform in Jordan in October to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 1963 Jazz Ambassador tour of the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
Hancock’s tour will then travel to Saudi Arabia for a four-day Arts Envoy program, the first of its kind between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
From Nov. 9-18, The Philadelphia Orchestra is slated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its historic 1973 tour of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with ensemble performances and residency activities in multiple cities in the PRC.
Ten American Bands to Travel to 30 Countries Through American Music Abroad
Representing various genres, Birckhead, The Beatbox House, The Invisibles, Marielle Kraft, Matthew Whitaker, Pipeline Vocal Project, Raining Jane, Sihasin, Sub-Radio and Tap Music Project will travel to 30 countries from October through June 2024.
In November, the 2023 American Music Abroad Academy Cleveland will bring together young professional musicians from the Ukrainian diaspora and around the world for collaboration with and mentorship opportunities from American instructors with a focus on cultural preservation through music.
Next Level to Use Hip-Hop in Nigeria, Bring International Artists to the United States
In September, four U.S. hip-hop artists focusing on conflict transformation will travel to Lagos, Nigeria for a two-week Next Level Academy. In addition, 10 international participants will travel to Washington, D.C., and New York for a two-week professional development program on conflict transformation through hip-hop.
Scaling Social Entrepreneurship Projects, Strengthening Creative Economy Through OneBeat
From Nov. 6-20, musicians from Ghana and Nigeria will come together to collaboratively create and discuss how music can bring people together through social entrepreneurship projects as part of the OneBeat program.
Harmundi International Music Summit to Welcome Students from Every Continent
Virtually connecting more than 60 international students from every continent through music, the Harmundi Summit will provide intense music training, cross-cultural collaboration, studio recordins and live performances under the mentorship of world-class musicians and producers. The Summit, which will take place Nov. 3-5, will be led by alumni of the Department’s exchanges and is part of the Department’s Citizen Diplomacy Action Fund. This fund provides grants of up to $10,000 for public service projects that utilize the skills, knowledge and networks exchange alumni gained through their exchange experiences.