Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I’m June Simms.
On our show this week, we play music from some nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame…
We look at parental stress and what some churches are doing to ease it…
But first, we remember jazz great Dave Brubeck, who died this week.
Remembering Dave Brubeck
Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck died Wednesday -- a day before his ninety-second birthday. Brubeck rose to fame in the 1950s and became an international jazz star. Christopher Cruise has more on the life and work of this great American artist.
That is “Blue Rondo A La Turk,” from Dave Brubeck’s 1959 album “Time Out.” Many experts believe the song helped launch a new age for jazz. The song has complex and unusual beat patterns. Brubeck also borrowed sounds and rhythms from the developing world and classical music.
Dave Brubeck was born in Concord, California. His mother was a classically trained piano teacher. He formed the Dave Brubeck Quartet after World War II, performing at jazz clubs in small towns across the country. Brubeck said those performances gave him his best training.
“When I grew up almost every bar had a small combo and there were dance halls that we used to drive across this country from one dance hall --- and maybe two or three hundred miles --- the next day we’d be in a different dance hall. Great dance halls clear across the open part of Nebraska and those towns, and we’d come across that way. It’s changed a lot because most of our jazz now is in universities and colleges have taken over the old way that we used to have…a way to learn was one-on-one next to an old veteran.”
“Take Five” was also released on “Time Out.” It is probably the song most strongly linked to Dave Brubeck. But it was written by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, Brubeck’s long-time musical partner. The jazz piece was so successful it earned a place on pop music charts.
The Dave Brubeck Quartet performed and recorded until the late 1960s. At that time, Dave Brubeck decided to explore jazz-based symphonic and religious music. He also traveled a lot and recorded albums based on his experiences with other cultures.
Stressed Parents Find Help from Churches
A generation ago, stay-at-home mothers were a big help to many churches in the United States. They worked as volunteers and kept the churches operating. Today, the adult daughters of those women are struggling to balance work and children. When Sunday comes, many miss religious services.
“Sometimes we need just one day where we don’t have to get out of the house at nine.”
Deanna Troust has a media job, while her husband, Vic Fernandez, is an official with a financial business. They have two daughters in elementary school. Like countless other parents across the country, the family is struggling to find a balance.
“It’s really challenging and with two careers and if they’re both, I always call them 'big jobs,' if your husband has a big job too, well, you’re just sort of filling in, five minutes here, ten minutes there, to try and kind of make it all work.”
Christian leaders realize that stressed-out families are not good for the future of church life in America. Reverend David Gray leads the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland. He believes religious faith can be part of the solution.
“In our congregation, we have a lot of people who are stressed at work. It comes from living in the D.C. area. It comes from a lot of professionals in the congregation. And so when I look out in the pews I need to deal with the stress that they are facing.”
Reverend Gray recently led a discussion on the subject at the New America Foundation, a public policy research organization. Newspaper reporter Brigid Schulte took part in the discussion. Ms. Schulte is writing a book about the time pressure on American families.
“We work among the most hours of any country in the world. We take the fewest days of vacation of any country in the world.”
And America is the only major industrialized society with no paid parental leave.
“There is such a feeling of ambivalence about whether mothers should work in this country, which is evidenced by the fact that we don’t have policies to support them. There’s a feeling that every minute that you are not at work you better be with your child.”
In a new book, Reverend David Gray argues that religious groups need to be part of the fight for workplace flexibility. He says the future of churches like his depends on young families. The average age of Presbyterians is 61.
“So if a church is going to attract that target audience, it’s got to understand work-life imbalance.”
The Fernandez-Trousts are Presbyterians and exactly the kind of family his church is trying to interest. Deanna Troust says even with all that is going on with her the family, they still make it to church events at least once or twice a month.
“When I share with people that we go to church, often the response is, 'Wow, that’s so impressive,' rather than, 'Oh, that’s important. Oh Of course that’s we do.’ And it’s almost like, again, they're viewing it as another thing on the schedule that’s difficult to make happen.”
But church is one of the few places where Deanna Troust finds time for herself.
Reverend Gray says the goal of American churches has to be to become a haven for stressed-out parents, instead of just another burden.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees
Nancy Wilson, left, and her sister Ann of the band Heart
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will announce its newest members in several weeks. This year, for the first time ever, members of the public were permitted to vote for their favorites. The voting was held online at rollingstone.com.
The 15 nominated musical acts include Randy Newman, Heart, and Public Enemy. Faith Lapidus explores the histories and music of these performers.
That is “Dreamboat Annie” from the rock and roll band Heart. Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson formed the group almost 35 years ago. Known as the “Queens of Rock and Roll,” these women are still making music.
Nancy Wilson is a gifted guitar player. Ann Wilson has one of the best voices in rock and roll. Together, they have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide. They also shared 20 top 10 singles. One of them was “Magic Man.”
Public Enemy's Chuck-D, left, and Flavor Flav performing in 2007
Public Enemy is as loved for its sound as for its message. MC Chuck D is the leader of the hip-hop group. His rhymes tell of the struggles of the black community and the justice it deserves. Public Enemy album titles alone are powerful social commentary. They have names like “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” and “Fear of a Black Planet.”
“Fight the Power” is one of Public Enemy’s most famous songs. It was used in the Spike Lee film “Do the Right Thing.”
Randy Newman also gives voice to the social and political issues of the day. The 69 year old singer-songwriter from Los Angeles has made funny songs, touching songs, and songs deeply critical of the world around him.
Randy Newman performing earlier this year
Randy Newman spent much of his childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. His 1974 album “Good Ole Boys” is mainly an exploration of active racism in America’s Deep South and the quiet acceptance of it in the northern states.
But there is also a deeply moving love song on “Good Ole Boys.” In “Marie,” he sings of a man with many failings and his feelings for the woman who has suffered them.