Belden found himself leading his band Animation in Tehran, with Iranian listeners cheering him on. That performance last month made him the first American musician to play Iran since the country's 1979 revolution and, perhaps, the spearhead of a kind of cultural diplomacy.
Jazz musicians from around the world will gather this April in Paris for International Jazz Day, an event UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Herbie Hancock hopes will bring an uplifting "positive message" to a city still reeling from last month's terrorist attacks.
CPD’s curated list of some of the most notable examples of music diplomacy from the past century
As part of the Jazz Diplomacy Project, Natixis has provided support to the Foundation for the National Archives and the Newport Festivals Foundation. “Our hope is to encourage more people to become ‘Jazz Ambassadors’ by sharing the history of jazz and exploring the lessons the world has learned through the genre,” added Hailer. “BeanTown’s ‘Global Ambassador’ theme and ideals of using music as a tool for peace, intercultural dialogue, social change, and democracy tie in nicely to our year-long Jazz Diplomacy effort.”
State Department work doesn’t just involve diplomats and briefcases. U.S. cultural diplomacy sent “jazz ambassadors” such as Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong overseas at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s. The programs and cultural exchanges have only expanded since.
Every year, the State Department and nonprofit groups help send musical troupes, dance groups and teachers abroad to promote American culture and generate goodwill. It’s all part of cultural diplomacy, an idea that got its start with the “jazz ambassadors” at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s.
"The Newport Jazz Festival is the finest celebration of jazz that the music world has to offer," said John Hailer, president and chief executive officer, Natixis Global Asset Management - The Americas and Asia. "In celebration of this year's anniversary, we launched the 2014 Jazz Diplomacy Project to share the history of jazz and explore the lessons the world has learned through the genre.
In an effort to highlight “cultural diplomacy” with the embattled nation, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine invited jazz musicians Christian Howes and Douglas Droste to perform in Lviv. The Lviv Philharmonic Hall in Ukraine played host for workshops, rehearsals and performances infusing American jazz with classical music featuring violinist Howes and conducted by Droste.