The Music of Jack Johnson: Deeply Personal, and Powered by the Sun
Download MP3 (Right-click or option-click the link.)
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. Today we play music from Jack Johnson …
Answer a listener question about the Amish people …
And report on the winner of a major prize for architecture.
Pritzker Architecture Prize
The Pritzker Architecture Prize is widely considered one of the most important honors a building designer can receive. It is given by the Hyatt Foundation of Los Angeles, California. Every year a jury of building experts chooses the winner. This year, the prize went to the French architect Jean Nouvel. Barbara Klein tells us about this inventive architect.
As you walk along the Seine River in Paris, France, you might see a striking building covered with colorful boxes and walls with growing plants. The Quai Branly Museum houses a large collection of art from different areas of Africa and Asia. The French architect Jean Nouvel designed this building. The Pritzker jury said Nouvel's work is a brave exploration of new ideas that has stretched the limits of architectural design.
Jean Nouvel has designed two other museums in Paris, the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Arab World Institute. Windows on one side of the Arab World Institute are covered in metal sheets that have been cut with complex designs. The metal surfaces open and close depending on the strength of the sunshine outside. The design is both traditional and modern, beautiful and useful.
Nouvel has said that context is the most important part of his buildings. He does not design a building just to look good. Instead, he studies the culture, place, and requirements of the building so that it fits in well with its environment and is useful.
More recently, Jean Nouvel designed the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This building has an industrial style that is very modern and inventive. One part of the building extends over the Mississippi River.
Jean Nouvel is currently working on several new projects. These include a "Tour de Verre" building with many levels in New York City. Another new project is the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates. He will also be building a tall apartment building in the Century City area of Los Angeles, California. Jean Nouvel is expected to accept his Pritzker Prize in June at a ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Nigeria. Bayo Ogunsola wants to know about the Amish people and where they came from.
The most current government population studies show there are about two hundred thousand Amish people in the United States. Amish immigrants began arriving from Germany and Switzerland in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. They were expelled from their home countries or chose to leave because of religious oppression. Most settled in the eastern state of Pennsylvania. Today, Ohio has the largest Amish population. Amish people live in nineteen other American states and in Ontario, Canada.
Pennsylvania's Lancaster County is known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country. About sixteen to eighteen thousand Old Order Amish live there. Dutch is a name for people from the Netherlands, yet many of the Amish came from Germany. Old stories say they were called "Dutch" because English colonists could not say the correct word, "Deutsch." But language experts now say that people in England often used the term Dutch to mean German. The Amish continue to speak a version of German. However, children learn English in their schools.
Many Amish communities live as their ancestors did long ago. They do not use cars, electricity, telephones, televisions or other common devices. They use horses for agriculture and transportation. They heat their houses by burning wood. They get their water from wells.
The Amish Christian religion is based on the idea of total surrender to God. They are pacifists – opposed to violence and war. They do not want to be part of American society, which they call "English."
Most Amish people are easy to recognize. The women wear long, dark-colored dresses. They cover their hair with white cloth hats. The men wear black clothing and dark hats. They grow long beards.
Most Amish couples have many children. Communities usually have their own small schools and children complete their studies in eighth grade. Most Amish families work together in their fields to grow crops. They also raise farm animals. The Amish make their own furniture and clothing. Amish women are famous around the world for making beautiful bed covers called quilts.
The Amish community works together to build houses or barns for their people. They also gather for religious services. The Amish permit few differences among their own people. They continue to live separate from the world around them.
Jack Johnson is a singer and songwriter known for his smooth voice and calming songs. His most recent album is "Sleep Through the Static." It is filled with personal songs about love, family and life. And this new album is also environmentally friendly. Shirley Griffith has more.
Jack Johnson wrote that song, "Angel," for his wife, Kim. When they met in college, Johnson was not a professional musician. In fact, he used to be a professional surfer who rode ocean waves on a surfboard. Johnson has said that he started writing music and playing the guitar after a surfing accident. He later wrote several songs for a movie he made about surfing. Today, the Johnsons divide their time between homes in California and Hawaii. Here is the song "Go On." Jack Johnson expresses what it is like to watch his two young sons grow up.
Jack Johnson may be a famous musician, but he does not like to lead a very public life. He likes to spend time with his family doing sports outdoors. Johnson is also very involved in environmental activism. Five years ago, he and his wife started the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to provide environmental education to schoolchildren. Jack Johnson's new album represents another environmental effort. The entire album was made using energy power from the sun in his environmentally friendly recording studio.
This spring Jack Johnson will travel around Australia, New Zealand and Japan to perform his music. We leave you with the song "They Do, They Don't."
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer. For transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs, go to voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.