Islamabad: The American country rock band Blended 328 performed in four cities across Pakistan as part of the US Embassy’s music diplomacy program.
The band’s 15day schedule included performances in Karachi, Lahore, Muzaffarabad, and Islamabad. In each city, the group showed their appreciation for Pakistani culture by performing alongside local musicians and incorporating local songs and instruments into their sets.
“We were very excited to come to Pakistan, but never expected such a warm and open reception from everyone,” said Gabe Jordan, one of the band’s guitarists. “Working alongside Pakistani musicians has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” chimed in lead vocalist Kimberly Phillips.
The band, comprised of three female singers and three male instrumentalists from various ethnic backgrounds, emphasized the importance of crosscultural diversity and gender equality during their tour. Chargé d’Affaires, Ambassador Richard Hoagland praised the band’s work in opening remarks at The Rock Musicarium, saying “In many ways, Blended’s story reflects Pakistan’s story. Pakistan is a country of great diversity, of many different types of people, all united under one flag. And it is this diversity, whether cultural, ethnic or religious, that helps make Pakistan great.”
In each Pakistani city, the band performed a blend of country western and rock music, many times performing with singers from the area to add a local flare to the music. “We always strive to live up to our namesake and create a cultural blend of music wherever we go,” vocalist Fran Hart explained. Brian Gibel, the U.S. Embassy’s Cultural Attaché, underscored this message, “We play music to bring Americans and Pakistanis together.”
One of the highlights of Blended 328’s trip to Pakistan was in Muzafarrabad, where the U.S. Embassy worked alongside the Ministry of Youth, Culture, and Sports to host a concert in Jalalabad Park for 1,000 people. This concert was the Embassy’s first largescale cultural event in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir region. While in Muzafarrabad, band members also met with 150 recent graduates of the Embassyfunded English Access Microscholarship Program, which provides free Englishlanguage training to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The band congratulated the graduates on their hard work and encouraged them to continue studying to achieve their goals.
In addition to bringing musicians from the United States to Pakistan, the US government also sponsors several music exchange programs, including Center Stage and OneBeat, which offer opportunities for Pakistani musicians to promote their country’s rich cultural heritage through concerts in the United States. These artists become cultural ambassadors, sharing Pakistan’s music with audiences worldwide.