Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 30, 2021
Thank you, President Carter and the legendary Herbie Hancock, for inviting me to speak with you all today.
I was born and raised in Louisiana. There, jazz is simply the rhythm of life. It’s everywhere. It’s like the sunrise. You expect it, but it’s always different, and every time you’re taken aback by its beauty. I remember when I first fell in love with a jazz album. I was in junior high, and I heard Wes Montgomery at a dance. Something about it, well, it just struck a chord. So, I ran out, I got an album of his, and I played it endlessly. I couldn’t stop listening – or dancing!
That’s the effect jazz can have on people. And perhaps that’s why it has been such an effective ambassador for America around the world in every corner. After all, jazz represents the best of America – creativity, diversity, freedom. And no matter who you are or where you’re from, jazz portrays the full spectrum of life – happiness, sorrow, and everything in between. No wonder jazz has gone global.
From South Asia to South Africa, from Mongolia to the Middle East, jazz has become popular anywhere in the world it is played. I experienced this myself: the first time I saw Herbie Hancock live in concert wasn’t in the South – it was when I was at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
My point is, jazz has a long history of cultural diplomacy. That’s just one reason we were so proud to partner with UNESCO and the Herbie Hancock Institute to launch International Jazz Day. And today, I’m thrilled to be celebrating the 10th International Jazz Day with all of you.
Congratulations on ten years of rousing performances all over the world. Here’s to many more to come!