Thursday, 13 April 2017

when you’re smilin’, the whole world smiles with you

Messy Nessy Chic has an interesting essay on the cultural ambassadorship, endorsed and sponsored by the US Department of State, of iconic jazz performers from the late 1960s onward through the end of the Cold War.
Somewhat facetiously since the criticisms of the Soviet Union regarding racial inequalities and racial tensions in America were valid, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and others were dispatched on world-tours. Their concerts were especially concentrated in countries that the US government feared might turn to Communism in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Even though accorded more respect than most people of colour at the time ostensibly, the State Department sabotaged the artists’ domestic record contracts to keep them on the road constantly. Nowadays—though the programme may have been slashed, the successor Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs sponsors hip-hop musicians and sends them on international tours.