Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
  •  
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Herbie Hancock Named Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue

Herbie Hancock speaks at his Induction Ceremony (©UNESCO/Ania Freindorf)

Herbie Hancock speaks at his Induction Ceremony (©UNESCO/Ania Freindorf)

Jazzmen Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller at the Induction Ceremony for Herbie Hancock (©UNESCO/Ania Freindorf)

Jazzmen Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller at the Induction Ceremony for Herbie Hancock (©UNESCO/Ania Freindorf)

Jazz icon Herbie Hancock was inducted as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, in a ceremony at UNESCO headquarters on July 22, 2011.  

Hancock is a music legend, with a career that spans over five decades and has won him a slew of pretigious awards, including fourteen Grammy Awards and an Oscar.  But he is wary of being categorized as a jazzman or even a musician, insisting that he is a "human being first".  Indeed, Hancock is a Buddhist and a self-described humanist whose interests span from philosphy to technology and who believes that global peace and solidarity are not only necessary but also possible.  His last album, The Imagine Project, which features a wide range of artists from different backgrounds and musical styles, from Pink to Juanes, is a tribute to this vision.

Hancock's openness to other cultures and faith in humanism make him a natural fit at UNESCO, which was created to "build peace in the minds of men".  He is already embracing his new role and working with the UNESCO Secretariat, national delegations, and the U.S. Mission to design and develop new projects. He participated in a roundtable discussion on music and cultural dialogue with ambassadors to UNESCO from several different countries, including India, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and Senegal.  He will work, in partnership with the U.S. Mission and other national delegations to UNESCO, to establish an International Day of Jazz.  And he is very interested in raising awareness about the importance of World Heritage, both tangible and intangible. 

At the Induction Ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion described Mr. Hancock as "one of America's very best cultural diplomats."  "He is deeply passionate about nurturing and sharing our cultural heritage in the service of peace", he declared.  "As a performer, a teacher and a public speaker, he uses the language of music to transcend cultural and other barriers to promote peace and understanding. "

Hancock said of his role, "it gives me a (new) lease on life. It's making me feel younger. I've just started. I've just started."