US Ambassador Hagerty Promotes Country Music Diplomacy with Japan

Thursday, March 28, 2019

By Allison Pestotnik

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Top representatives from the Japanese music industry became immersed in American country music on Thursday as visiting Nashville singer-songwriters showed their stuff at the U.S. ambassador’s residence, in hopes of gaining traction in Japan.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty, hosted the reception in honor of the Country Music Association of America’s visit to Japan. The event, aimed at promoting country music in Japan, featured up-and-coming country music stars replicating a “Nashville songwriters’ round.” The artists appeared together onstage for an acoustic set and also chatted about their personal stories and careers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to be here to help introduce this quintessentially American genre of American music: country music,” said Hagerty, who is himself from Nashville, Tennessee, the epicenter of the genre.

The ambassador said that he thought country music would be well-received in Japan and that it served as a way to connect people, regardless of culture, language or distance.

“The American storytelling process that we do so well through country music, it’s a particular point of pride for me being from Nashville,” he added in an interview with PanOrient News. “These are my friends. This is my family. I’m glad to introduce them to all of you here in Japan.”

The musicians who played and talked at the event were Lindsay Ell, Brandy Clark, Devin Dawson and Frankie Ballard, largely representing a fresher and more modern side of the genre. Clark was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys in 2015.

An official who helps direct the Country Music Association’s international outreach additionally spoke at the event, saying she was impressed and excited about the potential to do more with country music in Japan.

Also listening to the tunes were representatives from Japan’s domestic music industry. Behind the U.S., Japan is the world’s second largest music market. However, in a country already swimming in locally produced music and other American genres, how big of a slice of the pie American country music can take remains to be seen.

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