Cultural Ambassador Mary McBride “Revs It Up” in Iraq
From May 15-23, American singer-songwriter Mary McBride and her five-member band toured Iraq as cultural ambassadors to teach and perform in Baghdad, Basrah and Erbil. Organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the visit highlighted the U.S. Embassy’s efforts to build bridges of dialogue between the United States and Iraq through cultural cooperation and exchange activities, core elements of the Strategic Framework Agreement.
During their Iraq tour, Mary McBride and her band entertained audiences of all ages and backgrounds with her unique blend of American country, rhythm and blues, and rock ‘n roll. Venues and audiences included the Girls’ Institute of Fine Arts, orphanages in Baghdad and Erbil, elderly and disabled women at the Beit Anya Home, music students and Baghdad city government officials at Zawraa Park, Basrawi students and musicians at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah, and internally displaced people at a refugee camp in Iraq’s Kurdish Region. Her stay in Baghdad culminated with a standing-room-only concert at the Ishtar Sheraton Hotel for 500 U.S.-sponsored exchange program alumni, high school students participating in the English Language Access Microsholarship program, and other guests. Mary McBride and her band also held two “Rockers’ Roundtables,” special master classes for aspiring musicians. During the roundtables, participants discussed challenges for career musicians, obtained hands-on musical training, and performed together as a group.
Mary McBride and her band were welcomed to Iraq with open arms, and at each event attendees participated actively--singing along to songs they knew and dancing in the aisles. Mary McBride’s visit to Iraq provided audience members a greater understanding of American music and culture as well as shared joy and hope with several underserved communities, including many individuals who had never had an opportunity to experience a live musical performance.