Iola Brubeck on representing the United States when playing in foreign countries


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KH: As you were touring, did you ever feel like maybe there was a political agenda for the issues that were most important either on the domestic or the world setting, social, cultural issues, or something you were supporting either expressly or implicitly by being a State Department touring artist? In other words, if you didn't agree with some policy that America was doing, was there ever any trepidation on your behalf that "maybe I'm backing something that I don't really believe in?".

IB: I was going to say that I understand that the thrust of your question has to do with the American political agenda. And, thinking from my own experience in 1958 and at other times in Romania and so forth, yes, you are aware that you are representing your country. And, you feel that to some extent, yes, you're being used to -- I wouldn't say quite as strong as propaganda, but at least it's our country trying to put the best foot forward and that sort of thing.

But at the same time, I felt, that's OK because we are representing the best part of our country, and I'd rather have the world think about America when they see a quartet where there's a black man in the group, and we travel together, and live together, and so forth. Even though our country wasn't living up to that as home as well as it should, still, that was the ideal, and I didn't feel I was being used because I felt it was a statement of the ideal which we all should strive for.

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