Jazz Diplomacy Exhibit, Panel, and Performance
On April 20th, the Center celebrated Jazz Appreciation Month with a panel discussion followed by a performance played in front of our popular “Jam Session” exhibit on loan from Meridian International Center. The panelists surveyed the history and impact of the Department’s cultural diplomacy programs, with Dr. Penny Von Eschen of Cornell University, author of “Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War,” focusing her remarks on the strategic rationale for the Department of State-sponsored tours of legendary jazz figures such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Benny Goodman. Jay Raman, who heads the Department’s cultural programs division, spoke about the various music exchanges the Department still sponsors to foster U.S. interests and relationships with key international audiences. Kenny Wesley, a private American citizen who is a songwriter, pianist, and vocalist, spoke about his experiences in Department-sponsored exchange programs in Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Madagascar.
Additionally, the Dr. Anna Celenza, professor of music at Georgetown University, showcased items in the school’s collection related to Louis Armstrong’s 1956 tour to Ghana.
Following the panel discussion, guests were treated to a 30-minute performance by the Foundation for the Advancement of Music and Education (FAME) Jazz Ensemble. The noontime crowd, joined by many Department employees on their lunch break, enjoyed the joyful music and energy of the accomplished high school musicians.