Washington, D.C. — Rhythm Road artists represent the new generation of musical ambassadors, reaching beyond concert halls to interact with other musicians and the general public. This year, 10 American hip-hop, gospel, bluegrass, blues and jazz groups will have traveled to more than 40 countries performing public concerts and conducting master classes and workshops.
Rhythm Road has sent 118 musicians from 31 jazz, urban and American roots music ensembles to more than 95 countries since launching in 2005 in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center. In the tradition of the original Jazz Ambassadors program that sent music legends Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and Dave Brubeck on world tours during the Cold War era, Rhythm Road brings American culture to audiences around the globe through person-to-person exchanges.
Advancing through the first couple of stages for The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program is National Gospel recording artist Todd Curry and Focus. The group is based out of Greensboro, NC and have released their first CD, “It’s All Good.” It has been released to every major retail store across the country with Wal-Mart and Best Buy leading the way. Additionally the group will be flown to New York on January 16th for the FINAL audition phase. The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad, is a program that Jazz at Lincoln Center has of administered for the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Curry says, “It is an EXTREME honor to even have made it this far but if selected; the State Department will send four members of my group from country to country for an entire month!!!
The musicians’ engagement with foreign audiences through workshops, master classes and jam sessions presents a positive image of the United States and provides a greater understanding of our society. The artists themselves deepen their knowledge of other cultures, enhance their creativity and feel the pride of representing their country.
Since March, hip-hop group Chen Lo and the Liberation Family toured in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Meanwhile, blues band the Little Joe McLerran Quartet has visited Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait.