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Cortney Tidwell's Music: Moonlit Laughter, in the Shadow of Emotions

Also: a question from Saudi Arabia about presidential candidates' pages on MySpace. And the US Postal Service releases only its second triangular stamp, to honor the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week on our show:

We answer a question about the Web sites of American presidential candidates ...

We also have music by Cortney Tidwell ...

And we tell you about a new American stamp that honors an event from four centuries ago.

Jamestown Stamp


This weekend, after years of planning, Virginia observes the four hundredth anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown. Jamestown was Britain's first permanent colony in the New World. Queen Elizabeth was there last week. And now, three days of historic re-creations and other events are planned through Sunday. The events includes the release of an unusual postage stamp. Barbara Klein has our story.


The Settlement of Jamestown stamp is in the shape of a triangle. The design represents the three-sided fort that the settlers built four hundred years ago.

David Failor is the executive director of stamp services for the United States Postal Service. He says a citizens advisory committee helped decide what the stamp would look like.

The fifteen-member committee is made up of volunteers. They meet about four times a year to consider suggestions from the public for new stamps.

The first step was to approve a Jamestown commemorative stamp. Then the Postal Service began to search for the best way to represent the subject.

A nineteen forty-nine painting by artist Griffith Baily Coale was chosen. It shows the three ships that carried the first settlers to Jamestown.

David Failor says this is only the second time the Postal Service has issued a triangular stamp. The first time was in nineteen ninety-seven in honor of the International Stamp Show in San Francisco.

Every post office in the country will sell the Jamestown stamp for several months. The stamp is the first to be sold at the new first-class mail rate in the United States -- forty-one cents.

About seventy million Jamestown stamps were printed. David Failor says there will be no more. Only the future will tell if they are popular enough to become valuable collector's items.

The Jamestown commemorative stamp is not for raising money to help pay for the anniversary events. He says the purpose is to raise public awareness about the history of Jamestown.

Candidates' Pages on MySpace


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Van Hoosh wants to know more about the MySpace pages of the American presidential candidates.

MySpace, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, is the leading social networking site on the Internet. Users have lists of "friends," and those friends have lists of friends. Now, candidates are competing for MySpace friends in the same way they compete for money -- as a measure of popularity.

The Web site TechPresident is following the online activities of the two thousand eight presidential election campaign. It says that among the Democrats, Hillary Clinton had more than sixty-three thousand MySpace friends as of Wednesday. That was four thousand more than Barack Obama. John Edwards had thirty-four thousand.

Among the Republicans, John McCain had thirty thousand MySpace friends. Mitt Romney had seventeen thousand. And Ron Paul, a congressman from Texas, had thirteen thousand.

But the candidates are not the only ones who create pages for their campaigns. Supporters and local political groups have also created MySpace pages for their favorite candidates. As our listener in Saudi Arabia points out, it can be difficult to know which pages belong to the candidates themselves.

For example, a supporter of Barack Obama created a MySpace page under the senator's name. More than one hundred thousand friends joined the list.

MySpace later decided that the Obama campaign team had the right to take control of the page. The supporter got a new address, but he was permitted to take his list of friends with him.

MySpace recently created a special page just for the presidential election. The address is It has links to all of the official pages for the candidates. It also includes links to voter registration groups and other sites.

MySpace has announced that it will hold its own presidential nominating election early next year. Voting in this online primary will be open to any MySpace member.

Candidates recognize the power that social networking sites have to reach large numbers of people. These include teenagers who grew up with the Internet and will turn eighteen next year -- old enough to vote for the first time.

Cortney Tidwell


Cortney Tidwell grew up with a grandfather and mother who sang country music in Nashville, Tennessee. So it is not surprising that she, too, turned to a career in music. Her songs have a dreamy quality with unexpected electronic sounds and, yes, now and then the sound of a country guitar. Katherine Cole tells us more.


Cortney Tidwell controls her voice carefully, but her music is hard to define. Sometimes the sounds that come out of her mouth are unusual and surprising. In her songs you might also hear things like sudden changes in the beat or words that sound far away.

The musical result is poetic and striking. One critic says it is like listening to the sound of moonlight.

This song, from her first full-length album, released earlier this year, is called "Pictures on the Sidewalk."


Cortney Tidwell says she is influenced by children’s laughter, the night sky and the ups and downs of people’s emotions. Yet the mournful sound that we hear in "Pictures on the Sidewalk" can also be found in many of her other songs.

She has described how her mother suffered from severe depression and would express her sadness through music. As a result, Cortney Tidwell says that as a child she came to connect music with being unhappy.

But she says that in time, she recognized that writing music helped her survive some very difficult times. Here is a song simply called "La La."


Cortney Tidwell lives in Nashville with her husband, who helped produce her album. We leave you with the title song from "Don't Let the Stars Keep Us Tangled Up."



I'm Doug Johnson, hoping you enjoyed our program today. Our show was written by Brianna Blake, Dana Demange and Jill Moss. Caty Weaver was our producer. For transcripts and MP3 files of all of our programs, go to

And send your questions about American life to Please be sure to include your full name and mailing address. You can also write to American Mosaic, VOA Special English, Washington, D.C., two-zero-two-three-seven, U.S.A.

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