Besides bringing medical diplomacy to the Caribbean & Latin America, the USNS COMFORT is delivering some outstanding music diplomacy as an added bonus. Wondering what music diplomacy is? Wonder no more. Music diplomacy is one of the many cousins of cultural diplomacy and is best summed up The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy:
It is difficult to overstate the value of music in bringing people from different cultural backgrounds together for a common cause. Music has an almost limitless potential to unite both musicians and listeners regardless of their age, cultural background, language spoken, or skin colour.
I agree and I think it was a brilliant move to have musicians onboard USNS COMFORT for Continuing Promise ’09.
The task of uniting musicians and host-nation listeners alike on this 4-month humanitarian and goodwill mission fell to the 17 members of the USAF SOUTH Band under the command of Captain Cristina Moore-Urrutia, USAF, who also serves as the band’s conductor.
In a USNI Blog exclusive, Captain Moore-Urrutia said, “I think it has been an awesome experience. It is the first time an Air Force band has been onboard for one of these missions. I think the band has been just the right fit – a versatile group that can play from rag time to jazz to rock& roll to the latest Latin charts and some standard marches to boot.”
One of their most memorable performances to date was at a women’s prison inthe Dominican Republic. According to Moore-Urrutia, the audience was “incredibly receptive and obviously enjoyed the music very much. It was wonderful to see them respond to the music.”
For each stop on the 7-nation tour, the USAF SOUTH bands plays before a wide range of audiences on any given day. On the day that I caught up with them, they were playing outside the Multi-Cultural Center in St. John’s Antigua & Barbuda. While hundreds of patients were waiting in line, the band performed a concert which helped make the wait that much better. The talent in the band is impressive is all i can say – American Idol better watch out for the likes of TSGT Keisha Gwin-Goodin, USAF Band vocalist who you will hear from on this blog in future posts.
My gut instinct tells me that this is not the last time you will see and hear an USAF band on a navy ship! Gut instinct don’t fail me now.
BZ to the USAF SOUTH Band for vindicating time and time again Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s maxim that “music is the universal language of mankind.”
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