Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We answer a question about the Warner Brothers …
Play some music from Regina Spektor …
And report about the Memory Project.
The Memory Project
A young American man is giving children around the world a special gift to remember their childhood. Mario Ritter tells us about the Memory Project.
Ben Schumaker graduated from the University of Wisconsin in two thousand three. Then he traveled to Guatemala. He worked in a home for children who do not have parents. The conditions at the orphanage were poor. Schumaker wanted to do something to help. But he did not know what he could do.
After returning home, he remembered a story that a young Guatemalan man told him. The young man had also been raised in a children’s home because he had no parents. He told Schumaker about one thing that was missing from his life. He had no pictures of himself during his childhood. The man said he had no memories of what he looked like as a child. The man told Schumaker that he wished he could remember more about what he was like as a boy. The man’s story gave Ben Schumaker an idea.
Schumaker began taking photographs of young people in orphanages all over the
world. Then he brought the photographs back to high schools in America. There, the best art students used the photographs as models to draw or paint pictures of the children’s faces. The finished portraits were then sent back to the children for them to keep. The students who created the pictures also included a photograph of themselves.
The Memory Project began in October of two thousand four. Since then, it has spread to hundreds of schools across the United States.
Ben Schumaker’s project has touched the lives of thousands of children who now have beautiful portraits of themselves. Schumaker hopes the Memory Project will also affect the lives of the American high school students. He says he hopes the project will help the students connect with children in poor countries. He also hopes the students will better understand the lives of people in need around the world and will want to work for change.
So far, portraits have been given to children in twenty-five countries. They include India, Mozambique, Lebanon, Haiti, Honduras and Romania.
Ben Schumaker estimates that four thousand high school students will take part in the program this year. To learn more about the Memory Project, visit www.thememoryproject.org.
The Warner Brothers
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Burma. Ko Maw Gyi asks about the Warner Brothers.
Warner Brothers is an American company that produces movies and television shows. It started as a small family business operated by four brothers – Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack Warner. In nineteen-oh-three, the brothers began their business by traveling throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania showing movies using a projector. By nineteen-oh-seven, they opened a movie theater in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Two of the brothers sold tickets. Another operated the projector. And the youngest, Jack, sang songs between the films. Within ten years, the Warner brothers started producing movies, and moved that part of the business to California.
In nineteen eighteen, their first complete picture was called “My Four Years in Germany.” The film was based on a book by the United States’ ambassador to the court of Kaiser Wilhelm. In nineteen twenty-five, Sam and Harry Warner heard the first experimental movies with sound in a laboratory in New York City. They immediately went to work to include the technology for sound in their movies.
Two years later, Warner Brothers Pictures released the first major movie with sound, or “talking picture.” It was called “The Jazz Singer” and it was a huge success. In the nineteen thirties, the company made several films that were highly praised. These included movies about criminals such as “Little Caesar,” “The Public Enemy” and musicals like “The Gold Diggers” and “Forty-Second Street.”
The Warner Brothers’ success continued in the nineteen forties with movies like “The Maltese Falcon,” and “Casablanca.” Movies during this time starred popular actors like Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Gary Cooper and Bette Davis. The company continues to produce popular movies today.
By the nineteen seventies, the Warner Brothers studios had also become well established in television. In nineteen ninety, Warner Communications combined with Time Incorporated to form Time Warner Incorporated.
In two thousand one, the company combined with America Online. The company now includes film production, cable television networks, music and publishing. This year, the company announced a deal with the CBS Corporation to form a new television broadcast network. The CW began broadcasting this month.
Regina Spektor is a singer with a story and personality as interesting as her music. This young Russian-American musician has been playing since she was a child. Spektor has just released her second major record. “Begin to Hope” is an album full of playful and imaginative songs. Shirley Griffith tells us more.
Regina Spektor makes music that is hard to define. She combines wildly poetic words with unusual music. In some songs, she plays the piano. Other songs have more of a rock music sound. Some songs are happy and fun while others are sad and intense. Listen to Regina Spektor’s clear and strong voice singing “On the Radio.”
Regina Spektor was born in Russia. She started to play classical piano music when she was very young.
At the age of nine, Regina and her family immigrated to the United States. They settled in the Bronx area of New York City. Regina started taking music lessons again. But her family did not have enough money to buy a piano. So she would “play” songs by pressing her fingers on her knees.In this love song called “Samson” you can hear Spektor performing on the piano.
After college, Regina Spektor started playing her music in clubs in New York City. She soon became popular and started selling CD’s she made at home. Later, a well-known producer helped her record her first major album. Critics say her second record, “Begin to Hope,” is strong and expressive. Regina Spektor proves she can make many kinds of music. We leave you with the dreamy sound of “Fidelity”.
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.This show was written by Brianna Blake and Dana Demange, who was also the producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.