Since long before Louis Armstrong was sent to Egypt as a representative of the State Department, the United States has been using music as a key part of diplomacy. For Arthur Romano (George Mason University), a consultant on State Department musical missions overseas, music is an important form of conflict resolution. And: Noel Lobley (University of Virginia) wanted to give colonial musical archives back to the people — so he strapped DJ booths to donkey carts and took to the streets.
Later in the show: The personal and professional lives of musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane cannot be divorced from the struggle for racial equality. Antonio Garcia (Virginia Commonwealth University) says they contributed in significant ways to interracial understanding and social progress. Plus: The composers of the Civil Rights anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” also created musical theater at the turn of the century. Paula Marie Seniors (Virginia Tech) looks at the lives of the composers Bob Cole, J. Rosamond Johnson, and James Weldon Johnson, whose work helped break down stereotypical portrayals of black Americans.