Predicting This Year's Grammy Winners, and Remembering Some of the Very First

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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We play music from artists nominated for the two thousand eight Grammy Awards ...

And from some of very first Grammy Award winners, honored fifty years ago …

And, we answer a listener's question about the world's tallest building.

Tallest Building

Our listener question this week comes from Iran. Ali Barati wants to know about the tallest building in the world. The answer to this question is less clear than you might think.

Disputes over the answer to this question have to do with whether tall tower structures can be included as buildings. Is a communications tower a building? Do the metal antenna devices on top of some buildings count as additional height? What about structures that are partly under water? Or, communication towers that are supported by metal wires? No matter the answer, a building in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will be the tallest above-ground structure in the world when it is completed next year.

The Burj Dubai is expected to measure six hundred ninety-three meters tall, not counting a spire at the very top. The current height of the Burj Dubai is about six hundred meters.  Its more than one hundred sixty levels will contain homes, offices, shops, and a hotel.

To make sure this building in Dubai will really be the tallest in the world, we checked with the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. This organization is based in Chicago, Illinois.  It includes building designers, engineers and planning experts. The group's aim is to provide useful information on planning and building tall buildings around the world.

The council says a building's height is measured from the sidewalk level of the main entry to the structural top of the building. But the council says it looks at other ways to measure height as well. These include from the sidewalk to the highest floor of a building, to the top of the building's roof covering, or to the top of the antenna or spire on the top of the building. Designers of the Burj Dubai have made sure that it is the tallest in all four ways of measuring.

Before the Burj Dubai, the tallest free-standing building in the world was the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada. That tower measures five hundred fifty-three meters. And, the tallest structure in the world is currently a television transmission antenna in the American state of North Dakota. It extends six hundred twenty-eight meters into the sky. But it will not be the tallest structure for long.

Fiftieth Grammy Awards

That was the Champs performing their hit song "Tequila."  In nineteen fifty-nine the band was honored for that song at the first ever Grammy Awards ceremony.  This Sunday night, music makers will gather for the fiftieth yearly Grammy Awards.  Barbara Klein plays music from some of this year's nominees as well those honored at the first Grammys.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents Grammy Awards for the best recordings of the year. The ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The event will be broadcast live on television as it has been since nineteen seventy-one.

Some of the nominees will perform at the show, like the Foo Fighters. They are nominated for five awards including Record of the Year for this song, "The Pretender."

Rolling Stone magazine made a list of which nominees it thought would win Grammys and which nominees it thought should win.  The magazine predicts that Christina Aguilera will win Best Female Vocal Performance for the song "Candyman."  But it says the singer Feist deserves the award for her performance of "1234."

Ella Fitzgerald won that top prize at the first Grammy Awards.  It was for her album "Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book."  Here is "Puttin' On the Ritz," from that album.

This year Amy Winehouse was nominated for six top Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Her album "Back to Black" was nominated for Album of the Year.  It includes this song, "Wake Up Alone."

At the first Grammy show, Perry Como won Best Male Vocal Performance for "Catch a Falling Star."

This year, Seal is among the nominees in that category for the song "Amazing."

There are five nominees for the two thousand eight Grammy for Album of the Year.  They are a mixed group, including country, rock and roll and hip-hop.  However, the jazz album from Herbie Hancock captured our interest.  "River: The Joni Letters" is a collection of songs made famous by Joni Mitchell.  Here Herbie Hancock performs "River."

We leave you with the nineteen fifty-nine Grammy Album of the Year winner, Henry Mancini and "The Music From Peter Gunn."  We think this theme from the television series remains one of the coolest tunes ever.

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.

Our writers were Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.