Secretary of State Antony Blinken shocked many social media users Wednesday night with his rendition of Muddy Waters’ “Hoochie Coochie Man.”
The diplomat-slash-singer’s performance came at the launch of the Global Music Diplomacy Initiative. His audience included musicians such as Dave Grohl, Herbie Hancock, Denyce Graves, Rakim, GAYLE, and Armani White, who were in attendance at the launch event.
“I had some ambitions to try to make it in the music business once upon a time… But it turns out—it turns out I was missing just one crucial skill: talent,” Blinken joked.
“In my own life, and now in my own travels in this job, I’ve seen how music can transcend the borders of geography and the barriers of language,” Blinken later said. “Music gives us a space to express ourselves, to hear one another, to build a sense of community and understanding that helps us work together.”
Blinken added that the initiative will “support inclusive economic growth, to expand access to education, to build more resilient societies, and will start with three new efforts,” and will include a new partnership between the Recording Academy and the State Department, the beginning of the “Peace Through Music Award,” the incorporation of music into English language classes offered by the State Department worldwide, and a new Fulbright Award for an artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
But it wasn’t Blinken’s remarks that captured social media—it was his performance.
A video clip posted by Blinken has received four million views and over five thousand comments as of Thursday afternoon.
“Dayum! Who knew how much you really rock!” replied one user.
“Delightful surprise!” commented someone else.
Even some of Blinken’s detractors were left impressed.
Commented one user: “Well that’s a surprise. If only he could do the diplomacy as well as the music.”
“Resign and go on the road,” joked another.
Blinken rarely showcases his musical alter ego in public, though “The Late Show” viewers did get a taste last May when he jammed with Stephen Colbert’s house band.
The diplomat has also put out music on Spotify under the name ABlinken, where he notches 710 monthly listeners. There are just three singles listed on his discography currently, the most recent of which is “Without Ya,” released in 2020.
In a January interview, NPR’s Peter Sagal joked to Blinken: “I know you’re on a government salary, so I’m sure the Spotify income really helps.”
“I look for that check every month,” he responded.