He’s following in the footsteps of Louis Armstrong, better known as “Ambassador Satch” on his trips to places like Ghana.
For Shamarr Allen, it all started with a phone call similar to the one Louis received 50 years ago. “And they were like man we love the sound of your music. We love what you’re doing. Something different, something new. We want you to represent the United States as cultural ambassador!”
His answer was yes.
Unlike ambassadors before him, however, Shamarr Allen and the Underdawgs have the power of technology at their fingertips. As they travel Central Asia, the band is video blogging their many adventures from questionable hygiene at lunch to their performance at a local school.
They’ve been well-received despite the warning from their interpreters. “We can’t promise you that they’re gonna get up and dance. There has been nobody we’ve taken over that’s actually got people up dancing and having a good time so don’t be upset if nobody gets up, “says Allen. “And we look at each other, me and the band, like she just don’t understand what’s about to happen!”
On their first trip, the band toured Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On this tour, they’ll begin in Turkmenistan and return to Kazakhstan. It’s part of the State Arts Envoy program, which showcases contemporary music around the world. “These people really have me over here, you know, on the other end of the world playing for people who don’t speak the language, but understand the music, you know?”
And they understand technology. In a tweet to his followers, both domestically and abroad, Shamarr types, “Rocked Shymkent last night, had a great time. We changed 4000 peoples lives forever!”
If you’d like to follow along on the trip, you can find the musician on Twitter @ShamarrAllen or visit his website, www.shamarrallen.com.