Accessibility links

Breaking News

Infectious Disease Expert, Sax Player Are Among MacArthur Winners

A question from Russia about great American tennis players. And music by blues guitarist Buddy Guy. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week…

We listen to guitarist Buddy Guy singing the blues …

Answer a question about great American tennis players …

And, tell about twenty-five creative people who won large amounts of money from the MacArthur Foundation.


MacArthur Fellowships


Imagine receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars as recognition for showing creative ability in your job. Last week, twenty-five artists, scientists, writers and other experts received a very special telephone call from the MacArthur Foundation. They learned they had won a MacArthur fellowship worth five hundred thousand dollars. Bob Doughty tells us more.


Since nineteen eighty-one, the MacArthur Foundation, based in Chicago, Illinois, has been awarding experts for excellence in their work. The foundation looks at creative ability, a record of past success and a clear promise for continued work in the future. Winners must live in, or be from, the United States.

This year's MacArthur fellows include several medical doctors. Wafaa El-Sadr is an infectious disease specialist at Columbia University in New York City. She has done important work to prevent the spread of H.I.V./AIDS and tuberculosis by examining the social and economic realities of patients.

Regina Benjamin is a doctor who treats patients in rural areas of the southern state of Alabama. She started a health center to help people living in this poor area.

Other award-winning scientists study the earth and skies. Adam Riess is an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He has made important discoveries about the physics of the universe. David Montgomery is a geomorphologist in Seattle, Washington. He studies the ways in which the surface of the Earth is changing over time. His work combines science, history, and environmental studies.

Many other MacArthur fellows work in the arts. Miguel Zenon plays the saxophone. He inventively combines the sounds of jazz with Latin influences from his native Puerto Rico. Mary Jackson is a fiber artist in South Carolina. She makes fine containers out of sweetgrass and other natural materials. She has also created an organization to protect this ancient artistic tradition. Chimamanda Adichie writes expressive stories about her native Nigeria.

With this reward money, these creative thinkers will have the financial freedom to follow their goals and explore new interests.

American Tennis Players


Our listener question this week comes from Russia. Kate Tikhonova wants to know more about some great American players in the sport of tennis.

John McEnroe was one of the most successful American tennis players. He now broadcasts major tennis competitions. McEnroe was born in Germany while his father was serving in the United States Air Force. At eighteen years old, John was the youngest man to play in the important Wimbledon competition in England. But he lost to another great American tennis player, Jimmy Connors.

Both McEnroe and Connors played tennis in the nineteen seventies and eighties. Both became famous for their intense and aggressive playing and the strong emotions they showed on the tennis court. Jimmy Connors has recently been coaching another great American tennis player named Andy Roddick.

We often hear the name of Pete Sampras in tennis today. That is because Roger Federer of Switzerland is trying to break Sampras' record of fourteen major, Grand Slam tournament victories. Pete Sampras was the top tennis player in the world for six years in a row between nineteen ninety-three and nineteen ninety-eight.

One year later, Andre Agassi became the best tennis player in the world. In two thousand one, he married the great German tennis player Steffi Graf. His Agassi Charitable Foundation has raised more than sixty million dollars for poor children in the state of Nevada where he lives.

Lindsay Davenport is one of the great female tennis players. She won the Olympic Gold medal in tennis in nineteen ninety-six. When she became pregnant in two thousand six, she said she would not play tennis anymore. But she is now playing professional tennis again and her young son often travels with her.

The Williams sisters may be the most famous American women tennis players. Venus and her younger sister Serena grew up playing tennis in California. Their father was their coach. They are powerful, athletic players. Serena Williams recently won the United States Open after beating her sister in a semi-final match. The African American sisters also became famous for their tennis clothes. Both women studied clothing design. Serena Williams has her own designer clothing called Aneres.

Buddy Guy


Blues guitarist and singer Buddy Guy has been making music for over fifty years. The seventy-two-year-old performer has been a major influence on rock musicians including Jimmy Hendrix, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones. Buddy Guy's latest album is called "Skin Deep." Critics say it is a good example of his fierce and electrifying guitar skills. Barbara Klein has more.



That was the song "Out in the Woods" which Buddy Guy performs with the guitarist Robert Randolph. The story it tells could be Buddy Guy's own.

He grew up on a farm in the southern state of Louisiana. When Buddy was seven years old he made a guitar from two strings, wood and his mother's hairpins. In nineteen fifty-seven, Buddy Guy boarded a train going to Chicago, Illinois. There, he began to work with some of the most important blues artists in the country. He soon found work playing the guitar with the great blues musician Muddy Waters. Later, he began making his own music.

Here is "Every Time I Sing the Blues," performed by Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton.


Buddy Guy performs with several younger musicians on his album, "Skin Deep." He says he tries to get the best players to be on his records so that he can see what they can do and learn from them. He says that "my eyes and ears are wide open" because "you never know what's gonna happen."

Buddy Guy has won many awards during his long career. These include five Grammy awards and the National Medal of Arts. He is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We leave you with "I Found Happiness." This song is sure to bring happiness to listeners as well.



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

It was written by Karen Leggett and Dana Demange, who also was the producer. To read and listen to our programs online, go to

Send your questions about American life to Please include your full name and where you are from. Or 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.