June 03, 2015 07:41 UTC

Elvis Presley Rocks the Newseum in Washington

Why there are so many stars on the US flag and a visit to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Elvis Presley in the news
Elvis Presley in the news

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story

DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to American Mosaic, in VOA Special English.

(MUSIC)

I’m Doug Johnson.  Today we tell about South by Southwest, the major music conference in Austin, Texas.
And we answer a listener question about the meaning of the stars on America’s flag.
But first, we rediscover Elvis Presley at an exhibit in Washington, D.C.

(MUSIC)

Elvis at the Newseum

DOUG JOHNSON:  As you can probably guess from its name, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. is a museum about news. It recently opened an exhibit about a famous performer. His special sound and bold moves changed the history of music and popular culture. The exhibit is called “Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story.”   It tells about Elvis Presley’s influence on American culture.  It shows newspaper articles, television recordings and personal objects belonging to the King himself.  Barbara Klein tells us more.

BARBARA KLEIN:  Most people know that Elvis Presley was a popular singer and actor. But many young people today might not realize that Elvis represented a rebellious new form of popular culture. He first became famous in the mid nineteen fifties.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley

At this time, music in America was mostly divided racially. Country music was for white people, while black people performed rhythm and blues music. Elvis changed this. He combined both influences to create a whole new kind of music -- rock and roll. And, the man could dance. He moved his hips in a way that drove crowds wild. Elvis came to represent energy, youth and freedom.

The “Elvis!” exhibit at the Newseum explores the way the media represented Elvis and his career. And it tells about his lasting influence. The exhibit shows newspaper headlines about efforts to ban Elvis’s rebellious music, even his hairstyle. Other newspapers tell about his daily activities, fan reactions and crowded performances. The exhibit also tells about the important role television played in making Elvis a star.

REPORTER: “A phenomenon recalling Marilyn Monroe’s sensational debut in show business, Mister Teenager is on his way to attaining a popularity unparalleled in theater history.”

The exhibit includes a movie about Elvis’ life and the evolution of his representation by the media. There are also several objects from Elvis’ personal life. You can see a large nineteen fifty-seven Harley Davidson motorcycle he once owned. There is a bottle of Champagne from Elvis’ wedding to Priscilla Beaulieu, and clothing worn by his daughter Lisa Marie. And it is hard to miss the jeweled white jumpsuit that Elvis wore for his famous “Aloha from Hawaii” performance.  An estimated one billion people in forty countries watched this program when it was broadcast on television in nineteen seventy-three. He died four years later at the age of forty-two.

“Elvis! His Groundbreaking, Hip-Shaking, Newsmaking Story” marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Elvis Presley’s birth year.  And, it shows that the popularity of the King of Rock and Roll lives on.
You can learn more about the life and music of Elvis Presley Sunday on the Special English program People in America.

(MUSIC)

Stars on the Flag

DOUG JOHNSON: Our question this week comes from Saudi Arabia. Ali Awod asks about the meaning of the number of stars on the American flag.

The United States flag has fifty stars that represent the fifty states.  The flag also has thirteen red and white horizontal stripes.  They represent the thirteen original colonies that rebelled against British rule.  They became the first states in the Union.

The white stars are in rows in a blue rectangle on the American flag. The stars have five points. Until the late seventeen hundreds, many stars had six, seven or even eight points.  For many years there were different ways that the stars were shown, including in circles and rows.  In nineteen twelve, Congress declared how the stars must be shown.

Throughout American history, the number of stars increased as more states were added.  For example, the flag had forty-eight stars for forty-seven years, from nineteen twelve until nineteen fifty-nine. Then Alaska and Hawaii became states.  They remain the only states not physically connected to the mainland United States.  The fifty star flag became the official flag of the United States on July fourth, nineteen sixty.

Fifty years have now passed without any changes to the American flag.  That is the longest period in United States history that the flag has remained unchanged. 
Some American citizens live in places that do not have a star on the flag.

Washington, D.C. is the country’s capital but it is a city, not a state, so it does not have its own star. Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands and the United States Virgin Islands are territories.  So they do not have stars, either. 
Some of the territories, like Puerto Rico and Guam, may vote to become states in the future.  The United States government has created possible flags that have up to fifty-six stars.

(MUSIC)

South By Southwest

DOUG JOHNSON:
Austin, Texas calls itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  That is surely true each year in the middle of March.  Tens of thousands of people come to the city to attend the ten-day South by Southwest Music, Film and Interactive festivals.  Katherine Cole went this year and has our report.

(MUSIC)

KATHERINE COLE: That was Bob Schneider singing his song “Forty Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet).”  It was named Song of the Year at the Austin Music Awards, the closing event of the South by Southwest Music conference.   Maybe organizers should change the name of the awards to the “Bobs” as Schneider and his band had ten wins this year.  They include Musician of the Year and Album of the Year.

Nneka
Nneka

South by Southwest was started in nineteen eighty-seven to bring attention to Texas musicians like Bob Schneider. Now it includes performers from around the world.  This year, six hundred forty-two acts from fifty-nine countries were invited to perform. Nneka from Nigeria was one of them.  Here she sings “Walking.”

(MUSIC)

Musicians and fans at South by Southwest were looking forward to a reunion concert by the nineteen seventies band Big Star.  Sadly, its leader Alex Chilton died of a heart attack on the first day of the music festival.  The remaining members of the band played a set with some other musicians as a benefit for Chilton’s family.
Here is the original Big Star with “September Gurls.”

(MUSIC)

DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. Our program was written by and Dana Demange, Chris Cruise and Katherine Cole.  Caty Weaver was the producer. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to voaspecialenglish.com. You can also post comments.

Do you have a question about America? Click Contact Us at the bottom of our Web site.  Or write to mosaic@voanews.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Audio China Races to Find Ferry Accident Survivors

    Boko Haram militants have again attacked the Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Twenty people reportedly died in the explosion. Nine NGO employees shot dead in Balkh province, Afghanistan. US Senate set for new votes on NSA spy program. | In the News More

  • Audio FIFA President Sepp Blatter Resigns

    Four days after his election to a fifth term as FIFA president, Sepp Blatter has resigned. The head of the soccer organization made the surprise announcement on Tuesday as charges of corruption against FIFA continued to grow. The new elections will take place sometime between December and March. More

  • Audio Growing Evidence of Russian Military Involvement in Ukraine

    UN investigators say there is growing evidence of Russian military involvement in the war in Ukraine. More than a year has passed since the start of fighting between the Ukrainian armed forces and pro-Russian rebels. This week, the UN mission in Ukraine release its 10th report on the war. More

  • Audio India Suffers Fifth Deadliest Heat Wave Ever Reported.

    Unusually high temperatures are being reported across India for a second week. Indian officials are blaming the hot weather for more than 2,000 deaths. The severe heat wave is the second deadliest in the country’s history. It also is the fifth deadliest ever reported. More

  • Audio US Promises $18 Million for Vietnam to Buy Patrol Boats

    The U.S. has promised $18 million to help Vietnam buy American-made coast guard patrol boats. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was in Vietnam Monday to increase military ties between the two countries. Over the weekend, China rejected U.S. criticism of its land reclamation in the South China Sea. More

Featured Stories

  • Audio For a Longer Life, Go Running

    While all exercise is good, it seems running might be one of the best forms of exercise for heart health. However, running is hard on the body. Read on to learn about a recent study that claims that runners live longer. Also, get some tips on how to run safely and learn some great exercise words! More

  • Audio Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

    Can the sun provide power for a spaceship to travel to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a small satellite. The satellite is designed to test the effectiveness of what is called solar sail propulsion. More

  • Vladimir Lenin sculpture

    Audio Words That Are Their Own Opposites

    Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, learn words seem to fight themselves -- they are their own opposites! Well, depending on the context. Context is important when learning a language; but with these words, context is everything. Learn more about these Janus words and why they are called Janus words. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: Relative Pronouns

    In this week’s episode of Everyday Grammar, we are going to discuss the relative pronouns who, that and which. A relative pronoun “relates” to the noun it is describing. Relative pronouns introduce a relative clause. Think of relative clauses as long adjectives -- words that modify a noun. More

  • Video Blind Boy Defines His Life With Music

    When Frankie Moran first saw his son Cole, he could not imagine ever sharing his love of music with the boy. Cole had cognitive delays and other birth defects. And he was blind. Cole Moran is now 12 years old. Cole plays music every day. He records his performances and listens back to the sound. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs