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AMERICAN MOSAIC -- Rap Music by OutKast / A Question About Churches in America / and Mobile Phone Technology - 2003-11-14

Broadcast: November 14, 2003



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a VOA Special English program about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson. This week, we play music by the group OutKast. And we answer a listener’s question about churches in America.

But first – a look at the latest in mobile phone technology, and how some people are using it.

Cell Phone Technology


More than one-hundred-fifty-million Americans, or over half the people in the country, use wireless phones. Americans usually call them cell phones, which describes the technology. Signals travel from one area, or cell, to another as a person travels. And, as Shep O’Neal reports, wireless technology keeps moving along too.


Cell phones can organize information, receive e-mail, send instant messages and search the Internet. They can also store music, play games and do other things. And, oh yes, you can still talk on them too.

Manufacturers are discussing the development of phones that can be used as video cameras. For now, though, most of the talk is about phones that take pictures.

Camera phones were first used in Japan in two-thousand. They combine the technology of a digital camera with a telephone. Users can take pictures with their cell phones, then send the images to others. The color screens on the phones are small, but the images can also be put onto a computer.

Millions of camera phones are in use in Japan and other Asian countries. Some places have experienced problems. In South Korea, pictures taken of women in public bathhouses have appeared on the Internet.

In Japan, police have caught some people aiming their camera phones under the clothes of women in train stations. Others go into stores and take pictures of pages in books and magazines. That way they do not have to buy them. All these activities have led officials to ban camera phones in some public places.

Now, the United States is also experiencing problems with this new technology. Some American health clubs have banned the use of camera phones in their buildings. In one sports club in Washington, D.C., members are not permitted to use cell phones of any kind in the changing rooms. News reports said the club wanted to be careful and prevent any problems. Health clubs in Los Angeles have also banned the use of camera phones. A lot of famous people exercise in those clubs. Officials are concerned not to violate their privacy.

Churches in America


Our VOA listener question this week is from Argentina. Raul Colquehuanca (kohl-kay-WAHN-kah) asks about the number of churches in the United States. He also wants to know how young people learn about them.

That is not an easy question to answer. Experts say it is not possible to know the number of churches in the United States. That is because it is difficult to say exactly what a church is.

However, some researchers say America has more than three-hundred-thousand religious congregations, or groups that meet. These religious centers belong to Christians, Jews, Muslims and many other groups.

Experts also say it is not possible to know exactly how many Americans follow each religion. However, research shows that more than seventy-five percent of American adults are Christian. The number of Christians in the United States has been estimated at between one-hundred-fifty-million and two-hundred-thirty-million. Researchers found that there are about sixty-million Roman Catholics in the United States. There are more than two-hundred other Christian groups in America.

Also, about six-million people in America are Jewish. About six-million are Muslim. One opinion study also says that more than twenty-seven-million people in America say they are not religious.

Young people learn about their religions through activities of their church organization. For example, most Christian churches meet for Bible study and other classes to teach about their religion. Some groups also meet just to have a good time. Churches often place messages in high school and local newspapers about their programs for young people.

Thousands of teen-agers across the country attend young people’s activities at their churches. For example, the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland has a large program for high school students. Hundreds of teenagers attend activities there. Each Sunday, the church offers religious education especially for teenagers. Young people can eat breakfast together at the church on Thursday mornings before school. Other social activities include parties at peoples’ homes. Church families hold these events for high school students once each month.



Two rappers who perform together as OutKast released their first single in nineteen-ninety-three. Since then they have released five albums. The newest is called “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” Bob Cohen tells more.


Antwan Patton and Andre Benjamin are the members of OutKast. They are also known as Big Boi and Dre, or Andre Three-thousand. They have created their own kind of hip-hop music. It includes many musical influences such as blues and jazz.

Their first hit song combined hip-hop with deep Southern soul and live instruments. It was “Player’s Ball.”


The music of OutKast is sometimes funny, and often uses sound effects. In general, the music is less aggressive than a lot of other rap.

Here is a song from their fourth album. It is about a man's former relationship with the mother of his child. He is telling the story to her mother. The song is called “Ms. Jackson.”


OutKast’s new album is unlike their other ones. It is made up of two parts. “The Love Below” is Andre Three-thousand's part of the album. Big Boi’s part is called, “Speakerboxxx.”

We leave you with a hit from the “The Love Below” part of the album. It is called “Hey Ya.”



This is Doug Johnson.

Today’s program was written by Chi-Un Lee and Jerilyn Watson. Our producer was Paul Thompson. And our engineer was Jim Harmon.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.