U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason, Jr. have announced Quincy Jones as the recipient of the inaugural Peace through Music Award. The award is part of a new “Global Music Diplomacy Initiative” between the State Department and the Recording Academy to promote music as a tool for diplomacy and is intended to honor an American music industry professional, artist, or group “that has played an invaluable role in cross-cultural exchanges and whose music work advances peace and mutual understanding globally.”
This is not Jones’ first venture with the State Department; In 1956, he traveled with Dizzie Gillespie and his band as trumpeter and music director on a state-sponsored tour of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and South Asia. The Cold War-era program was meant to counteract cultural efforts by the Soviet Union by promoting American music and culture. Secretary Blinken is also something of an amateur musician—he’s released three singles on Spotify under the moniker ABlinken.
Jones will be presented the award tonight (September 27) at a ceremony held at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., featuring live performances by Jamie Barton, GAYLE, Dave Grohl, Mickey Guyton, Herbie Hancock, Christopher Jackson, LADAMA, Aimee Mann, Rakim, Armani White, DJ 2-Tone, and a video message from U2’s Bono.
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The Global Music Diplomacy Initiative was borne of the passage of the PEACE (Promoting Peace, Education, and Cultural Exchange) through Music Diplomacy Act passed by Congress in 2022. It includes several partnerships, including the American Music Mentorship Program (bringing artists to the U.S. for career development opportunities), a new Fulbright-Kennedy Center Visiting Scholar fellowship, and incorporating new music-centric curriculum in their ongoing investment in English-language learning worldwide.