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Powell on BET JAZZ with Tami Willis-Arasli

Interview on BET JAZZ with Tami Willis-Arasli

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Washington, DC
September 13, 2004

MS. WILLIS-ARASLI: How important is the role of the Department of State as far as spreading the word about jazz and American culture worldwide?

SECRETARY POWELL: You know, the Department of State, for many, many years, has been in the forefront of sending jazz musicians and the American jazz experience around the world. And so many nations in the world see jazz as an expression of the American spirit, the American spirit of creativity, of freedom and independence. And it is an important diplomatic tool for me, as Secretary of State, to have this kind of reception for jazz musicians around the world. It tells people what we're all about. And so we will continue to be a strong supporter of the jazz experience through programs like the Thelonius Monk Institute and we very much appreciate what the Institute does for up-and-coming jazz artists, not just American jazz artists but jazz artists around the world.

MS. WILLIS-ARASLI: Well, you answered my second question --

SECRETARY POWELL: Good.

MS. WILLIS-ARASLI: -- which was the importance of the Monk Institute.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yeah, it's vital. And look at the kind of support it has here this evening: corporate support, the support of jazz artists and the support of the State Department. And the simple reason for that is that it reaches out and touches so many people around the world. And I hear about it everywhere I go. When we send a jazz artist over to make a tour or go to a particular country, I hear about it from those foreign ministers, the leaders of those countries, who were raised in the early '60s listening to this stuff, and the '70s. It's formed a connection with them and America through jazz that they've never forgotten.

MS. WILLIS-ARASLI: What is it that you like about jazz?

SECRETARY POWELL: It captures, to a large extent, the black experience in America. It shows the creativity of African American artists and where we have come from and how we have been able to take that experience of ours and use it for a broader purpose. It gave us inspiration and sustenance during long, dark years, but always was something that was uniquely African American yet it went beyond the African American experience and touched the whole country. It was the African American contribution to the culture of this nation and to this nation.

Thank you.

MS. WILLIS-ARASLI: Thank you. 2004/984 [End]

Released on September 15, 2004


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