WASHINGTON, D.C. - It’s not unusual for a Department Secretary to be in the spotlight, but America’s top diplomat, State Dept. Secretary Antony Blinken, is putting the spotlight on a relatively new initiative last year: combining music and diplomacy. It’s part of the department’s Global Music Diplomacy Initiative which aims to promote peace and democracy through music. Recently, they announced a wave of celebrities as part of their music ambassadors to help spread this message. 

It’s well-known Sec. Blinken loves music and can rock out on the guitar. Even on diplomatic trips, like one to Ukraine, he performed a rendition of Neil Young’s ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’. 

Last year, Sec. Blinken announced the department is combining both music and diplomacy to promote peace and democracy across the world. It’s known as their Global Music Diplomacy Initiative. It builds on the famous Cold War era Jazz Ambassadors, which include Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, who helped promote American values through a medley of musical exchange programs.  

“When Armstrong went to Ghana on the eve of its independence, he felt an incredible sense of kinship with the people he met,” said Sec. Blinken. “He spoke about being inspired by them, by their liberation from colonial rule and also heartbroken about the struggle Ghanians and Blacks in America faced.” 

A new private-public partnership with YouTube was announced to bolster this initiative. Helping support opportunity and equity in the creative economy in various countries.  

“Invest in local creative communities through micro grants, bolster English learning language and showcase the universal power of music through performance,” said Lyor Cohen, YouTube’s Global Head of Music. 

“These are amazing individuals and they’re gonna – it's a public service really coming forward on behalf of the American people they’re going to build relationships and build bridges with communities and people all around the world,” said Asst. Secretary of Education and Cultural Affairs, Lee Satterfield. “They’ll engage locally when they’re traveling internationally, they’ll travel on our behalf, they’ll do workshops on song writing and lifting up the creative economy for artists all over the world and talking about the values that are important to our country; that means freedom, freedom of expression. American artists are already global artists and they’re being heard all over the world.” 

To help the initiative hit those high notes globally, the department announced a new roster of US Global Music Ambassadors: Chuck D, Grace Bowers, BRELAND, Kane Brown, Herbie Hancock, Denyce Graves, Jelly Roll, Teddy Swims, Justin Tranter, Armani White and Lainey Wilson. 

“This just means I have the opportunity to share my voice across the world and be a bridge across different cultures across the world,” said White.  

“It’s not political,” said Bowers. “We’re just bringing peace through music and there’s nothing better than that.” 

The new Ambassadors hope to bring real change, which is like music to their ears.  

“Being able to recognize that through music we all do have some things in common is needed now in today’s world more than it ever has been,” said BRELAND. “I hope this initiative brings about some peace and gives people some connectivity.”