Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today, we play some doo-wop music... answer a listener’s question about places in the United States called "Transylvania" ... and -- you've heard of cowboys? Come with us to a special place for cowgirls!
Cowgirl Hall of Fame
The United States is home to many halls of fame -- museums that honor famous people. Some examples are the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York; the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York; and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Today, Shep O’Neal tells us about another hall of fame, this one in Texas.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors women of the American West. It started in nineteen-seventy-five and moved to Fort Worth nine years ago. It opened a new building last summer.
The National Cowgirl Museum is an important place for experts to study the history of the women of the Western United States. The museum includes a research library and more than three-thousand rare pictures. Some of the women honored in the Hall of Fame helped settle the West. Others told its story in different ways.
Visitors learn about the lives of women like Sacajawea, the main Indian guide to nineteenth-century explorers Lewis and Clark. Laura Ingalls Wilder, who wrote the series of “Little House on the Prairie" books. And Georgia O’Keefe, who painted the beauty of the West.
Other areas of the museum tell about the kinds of jobs done by cowgirls. One shows cowgirls who performed in rodeos. A second examines the lives of women who worked on ranches. A third explains the cowgirl’s influence on American culture.
The Cowgirl Hall of Fame adds new members every year. Last year, it honored five modern cowgirls. One takes part in horse racing, another was a top rodeo star. The third works in the movie industry, and the fourth started the American Quarter Horse Association.
The fifth recent honoree is Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She grew up on a cattle ranch in Arizona, in the Southwest. In nineteen-eighty-one, she became the first woman to join the Supreme Court.
Justice O'Connor and the other women honored by the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas, received a medal. That, along with a special pair of cowgirl boots!
Our VOA listener question comes from Romania this week. John Tripon lives in the area called Transylvania. He wants to know how some places in the United States came to have this name, too. One is Transylvania University in the state of Kentucky. Another is Transylvania County, in North Carolina.
Transylvania -- the Romanian one -- is famous for the stories about Dracula, a local ruler hundreds of years ago. In eighteen-ninety-seven, British author Bram Stoker wrote the book "Dracula." This horror story, and the movies based on it, have kept the belief alive that Dracula was a vampire.
Some people believe vampires live forever by drinking the blood of human victims. Some history experts say the real Dracula killed many of his enemies and may have drunk their blood. But as for being a vampire, well ...
Anyway, Transylvania simply means "the land beyond the forest." In Latin, “trans” means "across" and "sylvania" means "woods."
Transylvania University officials in Kentucky say the school got its name from the area where early settlers established it. That was in seventeen-eighty. A land company at the time called the wooded area Transylvania. Today, that area is in the city of Lexington, Kentucky.
Transylvania County in North Carolina got its name in eighteen-sixty-one from the beautiful forests in the area. Today, two large forests lie within its borders. Pisgah National Forest covers more than thirty-three-thousand hectares of the county. The Nantahala National Forest covers two-thousand hectares.
North Carolina officials see beyond just the trees. They point out that Transylvania County also has more than two-hundred-fifty waterfalls within its woods.
The Jewels and the Orioles
The Jewels and the Orioles are two groups that began singing more than fifty years ago. They recently performed at the Library of Congress in Washington, D-C. Steve Ember tells us about them.
The Jewels and the Orioles first became well-known in the late nineteen-forties. They sang a kind of popular rock and roll music called “doo wop.”
The Jewels began singing when they were four high school girls in Washington, D-C. They met musician Bo Didley who helped them get their songs recorded. Soon soul singer James Brown invited the group to perform with him. The Jewels have performed with the “Godfather of Soul” throughout the United States, Canada, Jamaica and Mexico. Here they sing their hit song “Hearts of Stone.”
Five young men in Baltimore, Maryland, formed the Orioles. They recorded their first big hit in nineteen-forty-nine. “It’s Too Soon to Know” sold one-million copies.
The Orioles have appeared with other famous singers. These include the Four Tops, the Supremes, Jackie Wilson, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra and Connie Francis. In nineteen-ninety-three, they sang at President Clinton’s inauguration. Two years later, they were elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Fifty years ago, the Orioles recorded their biggest hit, “Crying in the Chapel.”
You may wonder why this kind of music is called “doo wop.” It is because the background singers sing nonsense words to support the melody sung by the lead singer. Listen to the background singers on this famous song, “When You Dance” by the Turbans.
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. And our producer was Paul Thompson.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.