Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I’m Shirley
And I’m Steve Ember. The John F. Kennedy Center for the
Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., is a major cultural center in America. For
the past thirty years, the center has presented awards to honor artists for
their lifetime of work.
On Sunday, December seventh, it will honor six
(MUSIC: "Don’t Rain On My Parade")
That voice is one of the most recognizable in the
world. It belongs to Barbra Streisand. At the age of nineteen, Barbra Streisand won
her first part in a Broadway musical. The year was nineteen sixty-two and the
character was Miss Marmelstein in the play, “I Can Get It for You Wholesale.”
The part was small but Streisand earned a Tony nomination and lots of
Her first recording, “The Barbra Streisand Album,"
came out in nineteen sixty-three. It won
two Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.It made her a star.
Many albums followed. Fifty went “gold,” selling at least a half-million copies. Barbra Streisand also has thirteen “platinum”
albums, those that sold at least one million copies.
In nineteen sixty-eight Barbra Streisand made her first
movie. It was the film version of the Broadway musical, “Funny Girl.” The movie
was a huge hit. Barbara Streisand won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
(MUSIC: "People Who Need People")
The singer/actress continued to make albums and movies.
She also began to produce and direct movies.In nineteen eighty-three, Barbra Streisand
became the first woman to write, direct, produce and star in a major film. The movie, “Yentl,” won great critical
praise. Barbra Streisand has won many awards
in her long career.
(SOUND: “March of The Penguins”)
The next Kennedy Center honoree also has an unmistakable
voice. The deep, warm sound of seventy-one year old actor Morgan Freeman has
been heard in more than fifty movies and documentaries. But, you might not know this serious
dramatic actor spent many years in children's television.Freeman was a performer on the show “The
Electric Company” for much of the nineteen seventies.
In nineteen eighty-nine, two movies changed Morgan
Freeman’s career forever. In “Glory,” he
starred as an officer in the first all-black volunteer group of federal troops
in the American Civil War. In “Driving
Miss Daisy,” he became friends with his employer, an old, independent, difficult
Morgan Freeman got his first Academy Award nomination
for Best Actor for that movie. But he
did not win one until two thousand four. That was for his performance as a former professional fighter in the
Clint Eastwood movie, “Million Dollar Baby.”
(SOUND: “Million Dollar Baby”)
Morgan Freeman recently returned to live theater in a
Broadway production of the Clifford Odets play, “The Country Girl.”
(MUSIC: "Why Baby Why")
George Jones first sang that unforgettable song in
nineteen fifty-five. The following year
Billboard magazine named him the most promising country music singer. It was right. He has had one of the most hit-filled careers in country music.
The seventy-seven year old singer was born in
Texas. He began singing on the streets
of Beaumont as a child. He was a
teenager when he left home to seek musical fame and riches. But first he served in the Marine Corps during
the Korean War.
That song, “White Lightning,” was Jones’ first to hit
number one on Billboard’s country music charts. The year was nineteen fifty-nine and he was twenty-eight.
The Kennedy Center notes that while Jones is often
called cool, his style of singing is extremely personal. It says George Jones always means every note
and word he sings. His feelings are real
and the music is true.
George Jones married country singer Tammy Wynette in
nineteen sixty-nine. She was his third
wife. They made some of the greatest
country duets ever. Here is one, “We’re
Gonna’ Hold On.”
The “Silver-Haired Possum,” as he is called, has held on
through a lot of hard times. His father
was dependent on alcohol. George Jones also
developed the disease and was dependent on the drug cocaine. He suffered financially and professionally as
a result. He became known as “no-show
Jones” for missing performances. He has
George Jones was admitted into the Country Music Hall
of Fame in nineteen ninety-two. President Bush presented him with a National Medal of Arts ten years
(MUSIC: “Movin’ Out”)
American dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp was born
in Indiana and raised there and in California.Her mother, a piano teacher, realized that
Twyla had a musical gift when she was still a baby. Twyla started dancing
lessons when she was just four. She says
dancing is how she most enjoyed spending time as a child. And she says it was the way she always
Tharp moved to New York City and studied art history at
Barnard College. She also studied dance
under famous teachers like Martha Graham and Paul Taylor.
Twyla Tharp graduated from Barnard in nineteen
sixty-three. Two years later, Twyla Tharp Dance opened. From the start her work was different. For
example, she used a lot of jazz music.Sometimes she mixed it with classical pieces.
She also used completely new dance movements. There might be a sudden, playful lift and
drop of the shoulders, or the dancers might hop around. Tharp often combined ballet with common
movements like walking, running or sliding. Her dances were often playful,
edgy, humorous and always daring.
Twyla Tharp started to work with major ballet
companies. The Joffrey Ballet first performed her work, “Deuce Coupe,” set to
the music of the Beach Boys.
Twyla Tharp also choreographed for films, starting with
Milos Forman’s movie version of the Broadway musical, “Hair.” She also wrote
two books, produced dance specials for television and developed and directed several
Broadway dance musicals. She won a Tony Award for “Movin’ Out,” which was set
to the music of pop rocker Billy Joel.
At sixty-seven, Tharp has won many awards. They include the National Medal of Arts and a
(MUSIC: "Who Are You?")
They are Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, that’s
who. They are the driving force of the
British rock band The Who. Both men were born in London. Daltry is sixty-three. Townshend is
sixty-four. But they were still
teenagers in separate bands when they met. Pete Townshend played rhythm guitar and Roger Daltry sang. Joined by Pete Entwhistle on bass and Keith
Moon on drums, The Who formed in nineteen sixty-four.
Pete Townshend became the main songwriter for the band
early on. He gained fame for his extremely
energetic performances, which sometimes ended with Townshend destroying his
guitar on stage.
(MUSIC: “My Generation”)
Their first album, “My Generation,” was released in
nineteen sixty-five after their first hit single, “I Can’t Explain.” Hit after
hit followed throughout the nineteen sixties.
The Who experimented. In nineteen sixty-seven they put out an album that played like radio programming. It contained commercials and station
identifications and talk. A short time later came the rock opera “Tommy.”
Roger Daltry became “Tommy” in the extraordinary
concert performances that followed its creation. Later, he earned critical praise for his work
in the movie, “Tommy.” Daltry apparently
liked acting. He has continued to do so,
on stage and television.
The Who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has
received many other music awards and honors.
(MUSIC: "I Can See For Miles")
This program was written and produced by Caty
Weaver. I’m Steve Ember.
And I’m Shirley
Griffith. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.