Broadcast: April 9, 2004
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
This is Bob Doughty.
On our show this week, we have music from Faith Hill. And we answer a question about her. We also report about a new exhibit of hand-made quilts.
But first, we tell about the opening of an important sports season.
Baseball Season Opens
The Major League professional baseball season opened in the United States last Sunday when the Baltimore Orioles played the Boston Red Sox. But two baseball games were played even earlier — in Japan. Gwen Outen explains.
Perhaps no other sport has become as deeply rooted in American life as baseball. No other sport has created so many popular traditions, including poems, songs, books and films. Famous players of the past and present are as well-known to Americans as the country’s great scientists, writers and political leaders.
Major League Baseball officials continue to explore ways to add to these traditions. One of these is to play the season opening games in another country. So far, such games have been played in Mexico and Japan.
This year, the first two games of the major league baseball season were played in Tokyo at the end of March. The New York Yankees played the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Yankees are famous for winning more championships than any other baseball team in America. This year, the Yankees are paying some of their best players huge amounts of money. These famous athletes include Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and the Japanese baseball hero, Hideki Matsui.
All three played in the two opening games at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. Hideki Matsui won the most valuable player award. After the games, he said he got his power from the Japanese fans at the game and their high expectations of him. He told the New York Times newspaper that he was the happiest man in the world.
Some American baseball writers and fans were less than happy about the opening games this year. They began in Tokyo at seven o’clock in the evening. That was about five o’clock in the morning in New York! Newspaper reports said fans held opening day breakfast parties so friends could gather to eat and watch the game on television. And many drinking places in the city opened early for the same reason. The Devil Rays won the opening day game. The Yankees won the second game one day later.
A new exhibit of colorful bed coverings called quilts opened last month at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. African-American women in a tiny farming town called Gee’s Bend, Alabama, created the quilts. Shep O’Neal tells us more.
There is only one road into and out of the town of Gee’s Bend. It is a very poor community. Yet it is rich in traditions. For many years, the women of Gee’s Bend have created beautiful quilts from everyday cloth material. Now, seventy of these quilts made by forty-six women are being shown in an exhibit called “The Quilts of Gee’s Bend.” These large, colorful quilts hang on the walls of the museum. They look like modern abstract paintings. In fact, the chief art critic for the New York Times newspaper calls the quilts “some of the most miraculous works of modern art that America has produced.”
The women of Gee’s Bend made the quilts to cover their beds and keep their families warm at night. The women sewed squares, triangles and long pieces of cloth together. They used everyday materials like old clothing and pieces of cloth left over from making other things. Experts say the bright colors and modern designs are different from traditional American quilts made in other parts of the country.
Gee’s Bend, Alabama, is named after Joseph Gee, a white man who owned land in the area in the early eighteen-hundreds. Today, about seven-hundred-fifty people live in the town. All of them are black. Most of them have ancestors who were slaves on two large farms in the area. Women in the town learned quilting from their mothers and grandmothers. They made the quilts from the nineteen-thirties to the present time.
There are several different kinds of quilts in the exhibit. Some are made of bright colored pieces of cotton cloth called corduroy. Others are “work clothes” quilts made of old blue denim clothing worn by farm workers.
Experts say a Gee’s Bend quilt represents many things. It is useful as well as beautiful. It expresses the artistic ideas of the quilter and the cultural identity of the community. One of the women said this about her quilt: “It represents safekeeping, it represents beauty, and you could say it represents family history.”
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Wuhan, China. Qiu Tsuly asks about American singer Faith Hill.
That is her name to music fans all over the world. Her name at birth was Audrey Faith Perry. She was born in the southern state of Mississippi in nineteen-sixty-seven. She grew up singing in church, and decided to become a singer when she was fourteen years old.
Faith Perry moved to Nashville, Tennessee at the age of nineteen. She married songwriter Dan Hill the next year. Their marriage ended four years later.
Faith Hill had her first hit record in nineteen-ninety-four. It is called “Wild One.”
Today, Faith Hill is married to another popular country singer, Tim McGraw. They have three daughters. Here is a hit song they recorded together a few years ago. It is called “Let’s Make Love.”
Faith Hill has won or been nominated for just about every music industry honor. Last year, she won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance for the title song of her latest album. We leave you now with that song, “Cry.”
This is Bob Doughty.
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Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was our producer. And our engineer was Tom Verba.
I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.