Quincy Jones Lobbies Obama for Secretary of Culture Post

January 16, 2009 1:43 PM ET

Quincy Jones' decade-long effort to establish a Secretary of Culture post representing arts and the humanities in the Cabinet might be one step closer to reality next week when President-elect Barack Obama is sworn into office. According to reports, 76,000 people have signed an online petition started by two musicians who were inspired by the legendary producer. In a recent radio interview, Jones said that he would implore Obama to create the post: "The next conversation I have with President Obama is to beg for a Secretary of Arts." If there ever was a president who would embrace the idea, Obama is the one: we already know he digs the Dead, and a peek inside his iPod revealed loads of Stevie Wonder.

"I have traveled all over the world all the time for 54 years," Jones told the Washington Post. "The people abroad know more about our culture than we do," he lamented. "A month ago at my high school in Seattle, I asked a student if he knew who Louis Armstrong was. He said he had heard his name. I asked him about Duke Ellington and John Coltrane. He didn't even know their names. That hurts me a lot." Jones said he would like to see an education system that teaches the history and personalities of the arts, particularly music.

Last month, 15 organizations joined Americans for the Arts to lobby the Obama-Biden transition team to establish of Cabinet office to be approved by Congress. Both Obama and Vice President-elect Biden campaigned on platforms that called for reinvestment in the arts education, giving past examples of how Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie traveled as arts ambassadors during the Cold War. "Artists can be utilized again to help us win the war of ideas against Islamic extremism," read the platform.

Citing a weak economy and an already overtaxed government, critics say the post will likely not be created. Meanwhile, Jones, who told reporters he would like to see an education system that teaches the history and personalities of the arts and music, remains cautiously optimistic. "I am not an unrealistic person," he said. "[Obama] has got his hands full."

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »