Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Dept. of State Seeks Jazz Ambassadors

The U.S. Department of State and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts are planning to send seven jazz vocalists, along with their bands, out of the country as part of the 2004 Jazz Ambassadors program, which sends jazz musicians all over the world to spread further the influence of our indigenous music.

Upon hearing this news, I called the Department of State and began reading the kind woman who took my call a list of names of jazz vocalists I would like to see leave the country very much. This a list I have compiled over years of listening to bad singers mangle “My Funny Valentine” on CDs sent to JazzTimes for review. The nice lady from the DOS interupted and reminded me that the intent of the Jazz Ambassadors program is to share our brightest jazz talents with the world, not to exile the crumby ones to undesireable foreign locales like Latvia and Montreal. She suggested that I post the Web address for the Jazz Ambassadors application and let the DOS choose which singers are worthy of the position. Fair enough. So, the application can be found at, and it’s due May 30, 2003.

Please be aware, the DOS and the Kennedy Center are looking only for singers that are members of a jazz quartet, and applicants must be United States citizens at least 21 years of age. Also, the press release makes the point that “applicants must demonstrate the highest artistic and musical ability and be conversant with broader aspects of contemporary American culture.” In other words, you best be able to play and you best not have stayed in the woodshed for so long that you don’t even know what a bobblehead is.

If you and your band are chosen, you’ll be flown to far off destinations like Africa, Latin America, the Near East and parts of Asia for various four-to-six week tours, all on Uncle Sam’s dime. Plus, each musician is also given a modest honorarium. Those chosen as Jazz Ambassadors are also expected to conduct master classes and lecture-recitals for musicians and give a free concert at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

Originally Published