Global Music Diplomacy Initiative Unveiled at State Department Event in Washington, D.C.

30 Sep 2023
6 Minutes
Global Music Diplomacy Initiative Unveiled at State Department Event in Washington, D.C.

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.

The event featured live performances by Jamie Barton, Toni Blackman, Myles Frost, GAYLE, Denyce Graves, Dave Grohl, Mickey Guyton, Herbie Hancock, Christopher Jackson, LADAMA, Aimee Mann & Paul Bryan, 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.

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.