Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. This week:
We play music by the comedian, actor and singer Wayne
And answer a listener question about the most literate
cities in the United States ...
But first we want to tell you a story about a group of
Once upon a time, there was a person with a teacher, a
crowd and a microphone. So, the person began to tell a story.
This is the general idea behind an organization in
Washington, D.C. called SpeakeasyDC. The group started about twelve years ago
out of the Washington Storytellers Theater. SpeakeasyDC helps train and gather
people who are interested in perfecting the art of storytelling. Its aim is to
entertain, create meaning and build community. The group does this through the
performance of personal stories based on real life experiences. Faith Lapidus
tells us more.
SARAH HOLT: "I knew I was going to meet Lady Luck, I
could smell her. She was around the corner. I would see her peek out then she
would dodge back in …"
That was one of eight trained storytellers who
performed earlier this month. The subject for the evening was "Black Cats and
Four Leaf Clovers: Stories about Good and Bad Luck".
Once a month, people come together at a restaurant in
Washington to listen to several storytellers perform. All the storytellers must
receive training from a SpeakeasyDC teacher to make sure their stories are well
developed with interesting details. And, the storytellers must follow several
rules. Their story must be under seven minutes long and it must be true. Some
of the stories are very funny.
VIJAI NATHAN: "It is one of those eat-your-heart-out
kinds of dresses. The kind of dress that you dream of wearing when you're on
the arm of a gorgeous man. And he's in a tuxedo and you're rushing to get to
the theater and you bump into your ex."
Other stories give an interesting description of
another person's experiences.
LATIF DOMAN: "About eight years ago, a good friend of
mine called me up. She says, 'there is a new law firm, a personal injury firm
starting in Washington, D.C. You should apply.'"
gatherings are very popular. People enjoy attending because the stories are fun
to listen to. And there is a more personal connection to the entertainment than
going to a movie or the theater.
Saidman is the executive director of SpeakeasyDC. She says the event is so
popular because storytelling is very human.
SAIDMAN: "It's not reality TV, it's real reality. It's people really telling
their true story and they get a window into other people's lives. The whole
goal is to be yourself as much as possible so we can hear your voice and get to
Holt performed the first story you heard. She says that she enjoys the
excitement of telling stories to a crowd because she is an actress. But she
also works in public relations and says that being able to tell a good story is
very important in any job.
America's Most Literate Cities
Our listener question this week comes from China.
Chun-Quan Meng wants to know about America's most literate cities.
literate person is able to read and write. But this question is not about whether people can read, but
whether or not they do read. For several years, the president of Central
Connecticut State University, John Miller, has been helping to answer this
question. So which cities have the most
Last year's results show Minneapolis,
Minnesota and Seattle, Washington tied in the top position for most literate
city. They are followed by Washington D.C.; Saint Paul, Minnesota; San
Francisco, California; Atlanta, Georgia and Denver, Colorado.
The rest of the top cities are Boston, Massachusetts
and Saint Louis, Missouri. Cincinnati,
Ohio and Portland, Oregon are tied for tenth place.
Miller studied cities with a population of over two hundred fifty thousand. He
looked at six things. He considered a city's newspaper sales, the number of
bookstores and library resources. He also studied magazine publishing
resources, educational levels and Internet resources. Internet resources
included online book orders and the number of visits to a city's online
sources for information included the United States Census Bureau, the American
Booksellers Association and the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Miller found that a literate society generally tends to practice many forms of
reading. For example, he found that high Internet use is linked to high levels
of reading printed materials. And he found that cities with well-used libraries
also have greater numbers of people who buy books online.
Miller says that what matters most is not whether the rank of cities changes
over the years. He says what is most important is that cities support the kinds
of literacy methods that the study examines.
and Minneapolis have been at the top of this list since two thousand four. The
same ten cities stay at the top of the list from year to year, although their
order may change slightly.
Miller says that literacy is an important sign of the nation's well-being. He
says the extent and quality of long-term literacy is important to individual
economic success and quality of life in a community and a nation.
is also working on a similar literacy study for cities around the world.
Wayne Brady has been entertaining people as television
show host, comedian, actor, dancer and singer. He recently released his first album, "A Long Time Coming." Barbara Klein tells more about Wayne Brady
and plays songs from his new album.
Wayne Brady is probably best known for his appearances
on the television show "Who's Line is it Anyway?" a few years ago. The show featured a form of comedy known as
improvisation. This means there were no
written scripts and many surprises. The
actors made up most of the material as they performed. Brady made up funny songs about many
different subjects. Many people thought
Wayne Brady's voice was very good.
Brady says he has always liked singing. He sang songs on the albums of other major
artists. This led him to write and
record songs for his own album, "A Long Time Coming." The love song "Ordinary" celebrates the
beauty of simple things in everyday life.
Music critics praise Wayne Brady's new album. They say his voice is warm and soulful. The song "F.W.B." takes you back to classic
soul music made famous by rhythm and blues singer Marvin Gaye.
We leave you with another song from Wayne Brady's album
"A Long Time Coming." He sings his
version of Sam Cooke's song "A Change is Gonna Come."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Lawan Davis and Dana Demange who was
also the producer. Join us again next
week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.