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VOA Jazz Promoter Honored by US Congress

The United States Congress has proclaimed April 25 Willis Conover Day to honor a Voice of America broadcaster who spread American jazz music around the world during the Cold War.

The congressional resolution recognizes Conover and Voice of America for their "joint contribution toward spreading the language of Jazz and American cultural diplomacy."

Conover called jazz "the music of freedom." He began broadcasting in 1955, at a time when many Eastern European countries banned the musical style as dangerous and subversive. But his shows were extremely popular and an estimated 100 million people heard his broadcasts.

His programs also included interviews with jazz greats including Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong. He will be honored Saturday during a concert on the National Mall in Washington.

The concert brings jazz bands to the city to educate students about American jazz heritage.

April is Jazz Appreciation Month in the United States.