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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Louis Armstrong Museum / Education for the Blind / Grammy Winners - 2004-02-12

Broadcast: February 13, 2004


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


This is Doug Johnson.

On our show today, we answer a question about education for Americans who cannot see. And we play some songs that won Grammy awards earlier this week.

But first, a report about a new museum in New York City.

Louis Armstrong Museum



That is singer and trumpet player Louis Armstrong performing his famous song, “Hello Dolly”. Louis Armstrong is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians who ever lived. His voice, trumpet- playing skills and creativity continue to influence jazz artists today.

Louis Armstrong died in nineteen-seventy-one. In nineteen-seventy-seven, his home was declared a national historic place. Recently, it opened as a museum. Shep O’Neal tells us about it.


The Louis Armstrong House and Archives is in Queens, an area of New York City. Louis Armstrong shared the house with his fourth wife, Lucille, from nineteen-forty-three until his death almost thirty years later. The house was not changed after Lucille Armstrong died in nineteen-eighty-three.

Years later, the city of New York, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Save America’s Treasures program spent more than one-million dollars on the house. They made it look exactly as it did when Louis Armstrong lived there.

Louis Armstrong could have lived anywhere he wanted. Yet he chose a simple home in a common area of Queens. Visitors appear every day to see where the famous jazz musician lived.

For most of his life, Louis Armstrong was performing about three-hundred days of the year. But when he was home, he spent most of his time in a room where he produced most of his work. Today, the room looks as if Louis Armstrong might still be there. He often recorded people talking, music and the sounds of daily life. More than six-hundred-fifty of his recordings were discovered in his home. Here is an example of one of these recordings. Louis is talking with his wife, Lucille.


Louis Armstrong collected many things from his travels and from the people he met. He wrote many letters to friends and fans. And he wrote about everyday things that took place in his life. Thousands of pages of his personal writings, pictures, trumpets and other things can be found at the Louis Armstrong Archives at Queens College in New York. For more information about Louis Armstrong, his archives and his house, you can go to the museum’s computer web site. The address is w-w-w dot s-a-t-c-h-m-o dot n-e-t.

Education for the Blind


Our listener question this week comes from Pakistan. Habib Nawaz wants to know about education for blind students in the United States.

The American Federation for the Blind says there are about ten-million blind or visually disabled people in the United States. A federal law approved in nineteen-seventy-five guarantees blind students a free public education. It requires that all states provide a free public education in the best environment to children who suffer mental or physical problems.

To help blind students learn, schools are also required to provide special books published in Braille. This is a system of printing and writing for the blind. Words are formed using raised areas of paper which blind people feel with their fingers. Schools also provide other services and equipment to help blind or visually impaired people learn.

Many children with sight problems attend their local public schools with other children. They are taught the same subjects as other students their age. But they also receive special life skills training. This could include learning how to move and work successfully within the community. It could also mean special training on equipment to make life easier. Some schools even have special vision instructors. These are trained professionals who work directly with blind students.

Blind or visually impaired students can also attend separate schools for people with disabilities. Often, students at these schools have other physical or mental problems. Many of these special services schools are paid for by the states. Others are private. Blind or visually impaired students have the right to attend either. It is the responsibility of the school to provide them with a full education.

Many colleges and universities throughout the United States also have programs and special services for blind and visually impaired students. These are not free, however. At the university level, all students must pay for their education.

Grammy Winners


The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented its yearly Grammy Awards last Sunday, February eighth. It has been doing this every year for forty-six years. Phoebe Zimmermann tells us about the Grammies and plays some of the songs that won this year.


The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences was organized by recording artists, songwriters and technicians. They wanted to recognize excellent musical recordings and those who create them. The award the Academy gives is called a Grammy.

The award is a small statue. It is shaped like the early record player called a gramophone. The word “Grammy” is a short way of saying gramophone. Members of the Academy vote to choose the best recordings of the year. More than one-hundred awards were given this year.

One of these is Song of the Year. It goes to the writer of the best song. The winners were Luther Vandross and Richard Marx for writing the song, “Dance With My Father.” It is performed by Luther Vandross.


Another Grammy Award was for Record of the Year. The winners were the artists and producers of the song “Clocks.” It is performed by the group Coldplay.


The Grammy Award for Album of the Year went to the rap group OutKast for its album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” We leave you with a song from that album, “The Way You Move.”



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

Our program was written by Cynthia Kirk, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Our producer is Paul Thompson, and our engineer is Andrea Kominars.