Small-Town Georgia Influences Singer Lizz Wright's Latest Effort
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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 jazz singer Lizz Wright …
Answer a listener question about the American presidential candidates …
And, visit former President Abraham Lincoln's cottage, now a museum near Washington, D.C.
A newly restored house has opened in Washington, D.C. The house looks like it did during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in the early eighteen sixties. In fact, Mr. Lincoln and his family lived in the house while he was president. Faith Lapidus explains.
The house is known as President Lincoln's Cottage. He and his family lived there during the summers to escape the heat and noise of the White House during the Civil War. The cottage is on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. More than one thousand retired American military veterans live there today.
Washington banker George Riggs built the cottage in eighteen forty-two. He sold the house and land to the government about ten years later. The government built a large home for military veterans on the land. They also expanded the house nearby.
James Buchanan was the first president to use this house. But the Lincolns used it the most. They moved there each June or July, and did not return to the White House until early November.
Back then, the cottage was outside the city of Washington, about one and one-half kilometers north of the White House. President Lincoln returned to the cottage every night from the White House.
Today, the cottage and the retirement home are inside the city limits, in an area where many people live. The house has been open to visitors for only about one month. It does not have a lot of furniture, yet it tells many stories about President Lincoln and his family.
One story that many people do not know is that President Lincoln was the object of an assassination attempt near the cottage in eighteen sixty-four. Coming back from the White House, he was riding a horse alone at night when a bullet went through his tall hat. He did not take the incident seriously. But it led the War Department to increase security for the president.
Later, John Wilkes Booth watched the president ride from the cottage to the White House. He had planned to kidnap Mr. Lincoln and exchange him for captured Confederate soldiers. But there were too many guards protecting the president. So Booth changed his plans. He shot and killed the president at Ford's Theatre in Washington in eighteen sixty-five.
You can hear more stories about President Lincoln's Cottage on the Special English program THIS IS AMERICA on Monday, March seventeenth.
Presidential Candidates' Platforms
Our listener question this week is about the American presidential election. Armand Ngouala asks what the Democratic Party candidates plan to do if elected president, especially on the issue of Iraq.
Right now the race for the Democratic Party nomination is close. On Tuesday, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic nominating election in Mississippi. A week earlier, New York Senator Hillary Clinton won in nominating elections in three states -- Ohio, Rhode Island and Texas. But she lost to Mr. Obama in Vermont. And he remains the overall leader in the competition.
The two candidates hold similar positions, especially on social issues. For example, both support a woman's right to seek an abortion. Both also support stem cell research. And both candidates believe homosexuals should have rights to form legal unions similar to marriage. Senators Clinton and Obama also have plans that they say will provide health care to all Americans. Both also have plans to end the war in Iraq.
Barack Obama says as president he would immediately begin troop withdrawals from Iraq. He says he would get all American combat forces out of Iraq within sixteen months. The senator says he would leave some troops in the country to protect the American embassy and diplomats. But, he says he would not permit the building of any permanent American bases in Iraq.
Hillary Clinton says she would meet with America's top military and civilian security officials shortly after taking office. She says she would order them to make a plan to begin withdrawing troops within the first sixty days of her presidency.
Senator Clinton says she would also increase aid to Iraq and make sure it reaches the people who need it. And she says she supports the appointment of a high level United Nations representative to help negotiate peace among Iraqi groups.
Last week, Senator John McCain of Arizona gained enough delegates to become the Republican Party nominee for president. Senator McCain does not support ending the war in Iraq. He believes more American troops need to be deployed to crush rebel forces, end fighting among different Muslim groups and disarm militias. He says the United States must also help to strengthen the Iraqi armed forces and police. Senator McCain says political progress in Iraq depends on its security.
Lizz Wright is a singer with a rich and smoky voice. The twenty-eight year old performer's third album is "The Orchard." She says her childhood in a small town in rural Georgia influenced the album. Critics say it is her best yet. Barbara Klein plays some of Wright's music.
Before she began writing songs for a new album, Lizz Wright returned to her family's home in Georgia. She took photographs of the countryside and places that were important to her. Then she showed the photographs to people at her record company, Verve. She explained that this was the world she wanted to tell about in her album. Here is the song "Coming Home."
Lizz Wright first began singing and playing music as a young child at the religious center where her father worked. You can hear the influence of this gospel music in many of her songs. As an adult, Wright studied music at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Later, critics praised her singing in a traveling musical show honoring the blues singer Billie Holiday. On her earlier albums, Wright borrowed the songs and stories of other performers. She says that "The Orchard" mainly tells her own story. Here is "My Heart."
Lizz Wright also sings songs by other musicians on this album. For example, she performs a version of "Strange" by the country and western singer Patsy Cline. We leave you with a song that was first made famous by Tina Turner. Lizz Wright says she wanted to sing like Tina Turner's fiercely powerful voice in her own version of the song "I Idolize You."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Dana Demange, Nancy Steinbach and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
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