Friday, March 25, 2011
I'm Shirley Griffith.
And I'm Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA.
Every week, we tell the story of someone important in the history of the United States. Today we will tell about Nat King Cole, one of America's most popular singers.
Nat King Cole was born in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, in Nineteen-Nineteen. His parents named him Nathaniel Adams Coles. His father was a Christian minister.
When Nathaniel was four years old, his parents moved the family north to Chicago, Illinois. Nat learned to play the piano when he was very young. His mother was the only piano teacher he ever had. He gave his first public performance when he was four. By the time he was twelve, Nat was playing piano at his father's church.
Nat played piano in New York City and in Los Angeles, California when he was a young man. In Nineteen-Thirty Seven, he formed a group that played jazz music. Oscar Moore played the guitar and Wesley Prince played the bass. The trio reportedly did not need a drummer because Nat's piano playing kept the beat so well. They named the group, The King Cole Trio. At the same time, Nat also changed his name into Nat King Cole. The trio soon became very popular. Nat sang some songs, but mostly played the piano.
By the middle Nineteen-Forties, Nat King Cole was beginning to be known as a popular singer as well as a jazz piano player. He was one of the first musicians to record with new Capitol Records.
The first song he recorded for Capitol was "Straighten Up and Fly Right." He wrote the song. The words were based on his father's teachings. The song became one of the biggest hits of Nineteen-Forty-Three. It sold more than five-hundred-thousand copies.
((CUT ONE: "Straighten Up and Fly Right"))
Nat recorded hundreds of songs. Some of the most popular include"Sweet Lorraine," "Nature Boy," "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer," "When I Fall in Love," and "Mona Lisa." In Nineteen-Fifty,the American film industry gave him an award for his recording of"Mona Lisa." That song made him famous as a singer.
((CUT TWO: "Mona Lisa"))
By Nineteen-Fifty Six, Nat King Cole was known internationally. He signed an agreement to appear for a lot of money at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nat often performed in places that only admitted white people. Black leaders criticized him. Nat said he attempted to take legal action against those places but often failed.
Nat earned more money and moved to California. He bought a house in an area where white people lived. At that time, many white Americans did not want to live near blacks. White home owners nearby protested the purchase of a house by a black family. Nat and his family refused to leave and lived in the house without problems.
Nat was the first black man to have his own television show. His show began on N-B-C Television in Nineteen-Fifty-Six. N-B-C agreed to support The Nat King Cole Show for a while. It hoped American companies would pay to sell their products on the show. However, major companies were not willing to advertise on a show that had a black performer. They were concerned that white people in the southern part of the United States would not buy their products. Many Americans watched the show, but N-B-C halted production after a year.
Nat Cole and Eartha Kit
in "Saint Louis Blues"
Nat King Cole also acted in movies. The best known one is Saint Louis Blues. He acted the part of the jazz composer W.C. Handy. He also appeared in a film about himself called The Nat King Cole Story.
In the Nineteen-Fifties, he sang with some of the best known orchestras of the time. Here Nat King Cole sings "When I Fall in Love" with the Gordon Jenkins orchestra:
((CUT THREE: "When I Fall in Love"))
Nat King Cole was married two times. In Nineteen-Thirty-Six, he married a dancer, Nadine Robinson. Their marriage failed. In Nineteen-Forty-Eight, he married Maria Ellington. They had three children. They also adopted and raised two other children.
Nat King Cole always smoked a lot of cigarettes. He died of cancer of the lung in February, Nineteen Sixty-Five. He was only forty-five years old.
He received many awards during his life. He also received many more after his death. One was a Nineteen-Ninety Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
Nat's daughter, Natalie followed her father as a singer. She recorded many songs after her father died.
In Nineteen-Ninety-One, Natalie Cole recorded an album called Unforgettable. It contains twenty-two of Nat King Cole's songs, including the song "Unforgettable." Modern technology made it possible to mix her voice with a recording of her father singing the same song.
((CUT FOUR: "Unforgettable"))
Millions of Nat King Cole's recordings were sold while he was alive. And today, people around the world still enjoy listening tothe music of one of America's greatest performers of popular and jazz music.
((CUT FIVE: "Hit the Ramp"))
This Special English Program was written by Yenni Djahidin Growand produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Shirley Griffith.
And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week at this time for another People in America program on the Voice of America.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I’m Gwen Outen.
And I’m Doug Johnson with PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English. Today, we tell the story of a man called “Buffalo Bill.” His real name was William F. Cody. He created “Wild West” shows that people around the world enjoyed for more than thirty years.
William Frederick Cody was born in eighteen-forty-six in the state of Iowa. He died in Colorado in nineteen-seventeen. Researchers disagree about other incidents in his life. That is because some stories about “Buffalo Bill” are a combination of factual events and make-believe. However, there is general agreement about the influence of “Buffalo Bill” Cody. People say he represented the spirit and tradition of the American West.
William F. Cody grew up in the center of the United States. William’s family moved from Iowa to the territory of Kansas when he was still a child. His father died in eighteen-fifty-seven. A short time later, William started working at different jobs to help his family. He worked as a driver for a team of oxen. He guided the powerful animals as they moved goods from place to place. He also carried messages for a local company.
Later, William joined a group of men seeking gold in the mountains of Colorado. They were not very successful. Then he got a job as a Pony Express rider. The Pony Express used teams of men and horses to transport mail across the country. William was a skilled rider. Once he rode five-hundred-fifteen kilometers in a single trip. This was one of the longest rides for the Pony Express. At the time, he was just fifteen years old.
Kansas became a state in eighteen-sixty-one. A few weeks later, the Civil War between the states started. Southern states fought to protect the rights of individual states. Northern states fought to keep the country united. During the war, Kansas joined with the North and provided men for the Union army.
William was too young to fight when the Civil War started. At first, he served the Union forces as a scout, or explorer.
In eighteen-sixty-four, he joined the United States Army. Cody became a member of the Seventh Kansas Cavalry. His force was sent to nearby southern states during the Civil War. Cody drove a team of horses. He remained there until the war ended.
After the war, William Cody married Louisa Frederici in Saint Louis, Missouri. They were married for more than fifty years and had four children. When they were first married, Cody had many different jobs. For example, he operated a hotel in Kansas. Then he began hunting buffalo for work crews building the Kansas Pacific Railroad. The workers used the wild animals for meat. Cody got the name “Buffalo Bill” by winning a buffalo hunting competition. Reports say he shot and killed more than four-thousand buffalo in just eighteen months.
Cody re-joined the Army in eighteen-sixty-eight. He served as a civilian scout for military forces fighting Indians in the West. His experience and skills made him an able fighter and guide for the Army.
Cody helped the Fifth Cavalry defeat a group of Cheyenne warriors. He also served as a guide for individuals who wanted to hunt buffalo. Some hunters came from big cities in the eastern United States and from other countries. Once he guided a member of Russia’s ruling family, the Grand Duke Alexis, on a hunting trip. American newspapers reported on their activities.
Cody’s exciting life provided the details for many stories. A number of writers began producing stories about famous people of the western United States. These stories became known as dime novels. Dime novels helped make heroes of people like Davy Crockett and Kit Carson.
A writer named Ned Buntline decided to write a book about Buffalo Bill. Buntline’s book and newspaper reports helped make Cody famous. The book became popular and was later made into a play called “Scouts of the Prairie.” Buffalo Bill even appeared in the show. Critics said Cody was a bad actor, but the show was very successful.
The play led Cody to form his own traveling show. The group included another hero of the American West, Wild Bill Hickok.
During this period, Cody often returned to the West to find other work. He assisted the Army in its operations against Indian tribes. In eighteen-seventy-six, Indian warriors defeated General George Custer and his forces in the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana. A few weeks later, Cody and other soldiers clashed with a group of Cheyenne Indians. During the fighting, Cody reportedly killed a Cheyenne warrior named Yellow Hair. This event added yet another incident to Buffalo Bill’s collection of stories.
Cody liked the idea of being a showman and telling people about the American West. In eighteen-seventy-nine, he wrote his own life story and began publishing his own dime novels. He also continued to produce plays.
Cody organized his first Wild West show in eighteen-eighty-two in the state of Nebraska. The show was performed outside. It was designed to entertain and educate crowds of people. There were cowboys, Indians, buffalo and other kinds of animals. People were not sure exactly what the show was, but they liked it.
The following year, Cody and his business partners formed a traveling show called “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West.” It brought cowboys and Indians to people in parts of the United States who might never have seen them. The show was a major success for the next thirty years. People liked it for many reasons. One was a desire to return to earlier, simpler times. The American West of the dime novels was fast disappearing. The area was starting to develop.
Sitting Bull and Bill Cody
“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show included cowboys hunting buffalo. It had riders for the Pony Express. It re-created an Indian attack on a carriage transporting goods. The show also re-created the attack against General Custer and his forces. It included Indians who were involved in the real attack. It also included the famous Sioux chief Sitting Bull, who had killed General Custer. Sitting Bull traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show for several months.
In later years, a cowgirl named Annie Oakley performed with the show. She was one of the best gun shooters in the country. Annie Oakley could ride a horse standing up while shooting at a target. She could shoot a piece of money out of someone’s hand. Once, she became famous for shooting a cigarette held in the mouth of German Crown Prince Wilhelm.
“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” performed in cities and towns across the United States and in Europe. In eighteen-eighty-seven, the show performed in England in honor of Queen Victoria’s fiftieth anniversary in power. Six years later, the show was popular at the World’s Fair in Chicago, Illinois.
Buffalo Bill Cody was said to be the most famous American in the world by the beginning of the twentieth century. American presidents met with him to discuss issues important to the West. He had many modern ideas. For example, he supported fair treatment for American Indians. And he supported equal pay and equal voting rights for women. He was also a businessman who looked toward the future. He invested in projects that he hoped would bring economic growth to the West. Cody made a lot of money from his show business success. However, he lost his wealth because of bad investments and failure to watch how the money was used.
In nineteen-oh-eight, “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” combined with another traveling show. But this show failed. A short time later, Cody got a loan from a Colorado company to keep his show operating. But his financial situation got worse over the next few years.
Buffalo Bill Cody died in nineteen-seventeen while visiting his sister in Denver, Colorado. He was buried near the city, at the top of Lookout Mountain. His funeral was a major event. Twenty-thousand people traveled there to attend the ceremony.
Today, thousands of people visit Lookout Mountain every year. They see Cody’s burial place and a museum built in his honor. And, they hear stories about people who experienced the excitement of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
This program was written by George Grow. Lawan Davis was our producer. I’m Doug Johnson.
And I’m Gwen Outen. Join us again next week for PEOPLE IN AMERICA in VOA Special English.
1. When William F. Cody first moved to Kansas, it wasn't ____________ yet.
2. William Cody's search for gold in Colorado _________________ .
3. Was Annie Oakley a sharpshooter and also Cody's wife? ____________ .
4. William F. Cody made a lot of money from ________________ .
5. "Sitting Bull" was an Indian chief who _______________ .
6. Although he had a rich and varied life, William Cody never ____________ .
7. By the year 1900, William Cody had become very _______________ .
8. William Cody died in 1917. He was buried _____________ .
9. Another name for this selection could be _______________ .
10. This story is mainly about ____________________ .
Video of Wild West Parade and Show:
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
This is Mary Tillotson with the VOA Special English program Explorations.
A celebration has begun in the United States that will continue until September of two thousand six. The celebration honors the two-hundredth anniversary of the most famous exploration in American history. Today, and for the next two weeks, Shirley Griffith and Steve Ember tell the story of a group of explorers. They left their families and friends to enter unexplored areas of the American Northwest. These explorers faced heat, cold, lack of food, dangerous rivers and fierce Indian tribes. They traveled almost thirteen-thousand kilometers across areas that would later become the northwestern United States. Their trip is still known by the names of the two men who led the group -- Lewis and Clark.
The story of the Lewis and Clark exploration begins back in time on June twentieth, eighteen-oh-three. A young man, Meriwether Lewis, has just received a letter from the president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Meriwether Lewis is a captain in the United States army. He also serves as President Jefferson's private secretary. He is twenty-eight years old. The letter from President Jefferson says Captain Lewis will lead a group of men to explore the area from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean.
President Jefferson's letter is long. It tells Captain Lewis to draw maps of the areas in which he travels. It tells him to record a day-by-day history of his trip. And it tells him to collect plants and animals he finds. President Jefferson says Mister Lewis is to write about the different tribes of Indians he meets. Lewis is to report about their languages, their clothing and their culture. The letter asks Lewis to return with as much information as possible about this unknown land.
In the early eighteen-hundreds, much of the land that would later become the United States was unexplored. Many people believed that ancient animals like huge dinosaurs could still live in the far West. Other stories told of strange and terrible people in these unexplored areas. President Jefferson wanted Lewis to confirm or prove false as many of these stories as possible. The president also wanted him to find the best and fastest way to travel across the far western lands.
President Jefferson wanted many other questions answered. Lewis was to learn if it was possible to send trade goods by land to the Pacific coast. He was to learn if it were possible to take a boat west across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Many people believed this was possible. This idea was called the northwest passage. People thought the northwest passage would be a river or several rivers that linked the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Explorers just had to find it.
President Jefferson knew that any trip to the far West would be extremely dangerous. Those taking part could expect years of hard work. They would lack food and water. They would face dangerous Indians and have little medical help. There would be severe weather. It was possible that such a group of explorers would never return. President Jefferson chose Lewis to lead the trip because he was sure Lewis would succeed.
Meriwether Lewis and President Jefferson had spent a lot of time together. President Jefferson had great respect for Lewis. He knew Captain Lewis was a strong man who had a good education. Lewis was also a successful army officer and a good leader. And, probably most important, he was a skilled hunter who was used to living outdoors for long periods of time.
They decided to be equal in all things. Lewis and Clark had known each other for several years. They had served in the army together. Each trusted the other's abilities.
President Jefferson then sent Lewis to the city of Philadelphia. There, scientists began to teach him about modern scientific methods. He learned about plants. He learned how to tell where he was on the planet by using the stars and the sun. He learned about the different kinds of animals. He also studied with a doctor, Benjamin Rush, who taught him about emergency care of the sick or wounded and about different kinds of medicine. Doctor Rush helped Lewis gather the medical supplies that would be needed for the trip.
William Clark began to choose the men they would lead across the country to the Pacific Ocean. He made sure the men understood the dangers they would face. Clark and Lewis agreed that they needed men who could add some skill to the group. They agreed they wanted men who had lived much of their lives outdoors. They wanted some good hunters. They needed others who knew how to use small boats. They also needed some men who could work with wood, and others who could work with metals. They needed a few who could repair weapons and some who could cook.
Lewis and Clark called their group of thirty-two men the Corps of Discovery. Their exploration began May fourteenth, eighteen-oh-four. Another group of soldiers would join the Corps of Discovery for the first part of their trip. The soldiers would return after the first winter with reports for President Jefferson about what the explorers had discovered.
They left Fort Wood and traveled north on the Missouri River. It was extremely hard work from the very beginning. Their three boats were not traveling with the flow of the river, but against it. At times, they passed ropes to the shore and the men pulled the boats. Several times the ropes broke. It was difficult and dangerous work. The largest of their three boats was almost seventeen meters long. This boat was called the Discovery. It carried most of their supplies, including medicine, food, scientific instruments, weapons and gifts of friendship for the Indian tribes the explorers hoped to meet.
Near the present city of Sioux City, in the state of Iowa, Sergeant Charles Floyd became sick and within a few days died. The members of the Corps of Discovery buried him not far from the river. Today, a monument stands where he was buried.
The Corps of Discovery again continued north in their boats on the Missouri River. They passed through what would become the state of South Dakota. Here, for the first time they met members of the Lakota called the Teton Sioux. The Teton Sioux were very fierce and war like. They demanded Lewis and Clark give them one of the boats. The two leaders refused.
The Sioux threatened to kill all of the group. The Corps of Discovery prepared for a fight. But it never came. The Sioux changed their minds. Clark wrote of the Teton Sioux that they were tall and nice- looking people. He said their clothing was beautifully made with many colors and designs. He said the men were proud and fierce.
Soon, the Corps of Discovery passed into what would become the state of North Dakota. It was now growing late in the year. The weather was becoming colder. At a place they named Fort Mandan they quickly cut trees and made temporary homes for the winter. The Missouri River began to turn to ice. Some days it was too cold to hunt animals for food.
On the seventeenth of December, eighteen-oh-four, William Clark wrote in his book, "At night the temperature fell to seventy-four degrees below freezing." The Corps of Discovery would stay in Fort Mandan for five months. During the winter the explorers planned for their trip to the Pacific. That will be our story next time.
Our program today was written and produced by Paul Thompson. This is Steve Ember.
And this is Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week when we continue our story of Lewis and Clark on the Explorations program, in Special English, on the Voice of America.
1. Meriwether Lewis wasn't ___________ .
2. The Teton Sioux were described as ______________ .
3. The beginning of the trip on the Missouri River was difficult because _________ .
4. The name of the group of explorers was _____________ .
5. William Clark was of special use to the group because he was ______________ .
6. Benjamin Rush taught Meriwether Lewis about ________________ .
7. During the winter, the explorers _________________ .
8. First, the Teton Sioux threatened to kill all of the explorers. Then, the group prepared for battle. Then, __________________ .
9. Another name for this article could be " _________________ " .
10. This article is mainly about ____________________ .
This Youtube video shows the background for the Lewis and Clark expedition:
Lewis and Clark in Wikipedia
Lewis and Clark Continued: Part One
Lewis and Clark: Part Two