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College Basketball's March Madness | Question From Nigeria About MP3 Files | Folk-Influenced Music by Elvis Perkins


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about MP3 players…

Present some music from Elvis Perkins…

And report about something called "March Madness."

March Madness


"March Madness" describes the excitement about men's college basketball games every year at this time. Barbara Klein has more.


For the past two weeks, men's basketball teams from large colleges and universities have been playing in a championship competition. Millions of people have been watching the games on television and on Internet web sites. They are also betting on which teams will win and advance in the tournament.

The New York Times newspaper reports that the basketball tournament is one of the busiest times of the year in Las Vegas, Nevada. That is because college basketball fans from all over the country meet each other and bet on the games.

The series of games is known as "March Madness" because of the public's excitement about the games. And sometimes a team that is not expected to win defeats a team with a better record.

The Division One National Collegiate Athletic Association Championship Tournament has been played every year since nineteen thirty-nine. Sixty-three basketball games take place each March. The competition begins with sixty-five teams. The winner of each game continues on to play the winner of another game. The number of teams in the competition is slowly reduced to the "Sweet Sixteen" then the "Elite Eight" and finally the two teams who will play for the championship.

Four teams have won all their games so far. They will compete in the semi-final games on Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. These teams are called the "Final Four." The University of Florida basketball team will play the University of California at Los Angeles. And the Ohio State University team will play Georgetown University. The winners will face each other in the Division One NCAA championship game on Monday, April second.

Last year, the teams from Florida and UCLA played each other in the final game of the basketball tournament. Florida won, so it is now the defending champion. Will it win again? We will let you know next week.



Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nigeria. Aminu Tijjani Ali wants to learn more about MP3s.

An MP3 is a kind of file used for sending music or other material over the Internet. These files are compressed, or reduced in size, compared to songs on a compact disc, or CD. MP3 files are played on a computer using media programs like iTunes or Windows Media Player.

MP3s can also be played on iPods and other small players as well as some wireless telephones that can store music. Many players can hold thousands of songs yet are small enough to carry in your pocket. Changing, or converting, a song from a music CD to an MP3 file is called "ripping." Software for ripping is available by itself and in programs like iTunes and Windows Media Player.

The MP3 was developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany and other laboratories in the nineteen eighties. By the late nineteen nineties, music fans were beginning to change their music collections from CDs to MP3s. They were also able to download MP3 music files from the Internet much faster because of the MP3’s smaller file size.

File-sharing services quickly began appearing on the Internet. They made it possible for people to exchange copyrighted music at no cost. However, the record industry started to get concerned because people were trading free music on the Internet instead of buying it in music stores.

A few years ago, the original Napster Web site was one of the most popular music-sharing services. But then the music industry won court cases that decided that this kind of file-sharing was illegal and violated copyright laws.

MP3 files are still shared on the Internet today. People also buy them from online music stores. The new Napster Web site is one of these services that charges money for MP3s on the Internet.

On the Special English Web site,, we provide MP3 files of our programs at no cost.

Elvis Perkins


Elvis Perkins has just released his first album, "Ash Wednesday." Perkins performs folk music-influenced songs about dreams, memories, and sadness. Critics are praising his imaginative songs and soft but expressive voice. Faith Lapidus has more.



That was "While You Were Sleeping." Its rich imagery gives a good example of the poetic quality of Elvis Perkins' music. The song describes the many thoughts of a person who cannot sleep at night. Like many songs on this record, it also expresses sadness. You could say it is an album that deals with mourning.

Perkins' mother, the photographer Berry Berenson, died in one of the planes that terrorists used to attack the United States on September eleventh, two thousand one. Nine years earlier, Elvis' father, the famous actor Anthony Perkins, had died. In songs like "Ash Wednesday" Elvis Perkins mourns for his parents.


Elvis Perkins has been playing music since he was a child. In high school he had his own music band. During his twenties, he wrote and recorded songs, some of which are on this album. Perkins did not want his album to have a digital high-tech sound. He made many of the recordings on analog tape, both at a sound studio and also at an old house in Los Angeles, California. This method helps give a warm and personal sound to the album.

Elvis Perkins will be performing around the United States and Canada this spring to promote "Ash Wednesday." He gives an energetic performance, singing and playing the guitar and harmonica. We leave you with the dreamy sound of "Sleep Sandwich."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Brianna Blake, Dana Demange and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.