Celebrating the Transformative Power of Jazz and Hip Hop Diplomacy

Dr. Dwandalyn Reece (Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) stresses the importance of recognizing Hip Hop as an art form during a panel discussion with Junious Brickhouse (Next Level) and Dr. Maurice Jackson (Georgetown University). The discussion, moderated by Brenda Siler (The Washington Informer), was held as part of the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy's “Jazz to Hip Hop: Impact of United States’ Best Cultural Exports” program at Meridian House in Washington, DC on December 6, 2023. Photo by Jessica Latos.

From Louis Armstrong and Marian Anderson to Queen Latifah and Rakim, jazz and Hip Hop continue to take the world by storm. On December 6, 2023, Meridian International Center hosted a robust salon conversation on these two great American cultural exports. As part of the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy’s Cultural Diplomacy Salon Series, Jazz to Hip Hop: Impact of United States’ Best Cultural Exports, delved into the impact of jazz and Hip Hop artistically, politically, and socially, at home and abroad.

Guests were welcomed by Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Nicole Elkon, acclaiming Hip Hop as a diplomatic tool that continues to impact the lives of youth who find their voices within its artforms, which in turn, promotes change within their lives and communities.

The evening proceeded with thoughtful dialogue between moderator Brenda Siler, Contributing Writer, The Washington Informer; Junious Brickhouse, Director, Next Level; Dr. Maurice Jackson, Associate Professor, Georgetown University; and Dr. Dwandalyn Reece, Executive Committee Chair; National Museum of African American History and Culture. Topics including the social and political importance of the Jazz Ambassadors, innovation at the heart of both jazz and Hip Hop, the impact of Hip Hop beyond music, and the importance of intentionality and cultural responsibility in the export of these American art were discussed.

To conclude the salon conversation, the speakers imparted messages on the audience. Dr. Dwandalyn Reece stressed the importance of viewing Hip Hop as an American art form whose history, context, innovation, and social justice efforts, merit attention. Junious Brickhouse called for the inclusion of Hip Hop within higher education institutions and the reframing of Hip Hop as a culture with immense value rather than a performative activity. Dr. Maurice Jackson also urged the audience to support local art and art spaces in Washington, DC, at risk of disappearing amidst gentrification.

Following the panel, choreographer, songwriter, visionary, and Next Level alumna Brinae Ali and musician, producer, and composer Wendel Patrick, explored the connections between jazz, Hip Hop, and spirituals, through a riveting multidisciplinary performance featuring tap dance and looped vocals from Ali with simultaneous beatboxing and DJing from Patrick. American Pops Orchestra concluded the event with a series of ensemble pieces.

This program was made possible through the support of


Project summary

Celebrating the Transformative Power of Jazz and Hip Hop Diplomacy | December 2023
Number of Attendees: 96
Regions: Western Hemisphere
Impact Areas: Cultural Diplomacy
Program Areas: Culture
Partners: Individuals/Donors, Public Sector