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Kennedy Center Honors

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. will honor five famous entertainers on December Second. They will be recognized for many years of excellence in the performing arts. I'm Shirley Griffith. And I'm Sarah Long. We tell about the winners of this year's Kennedy Center Honors on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

Next Sunday, America's national cultural arts center will celebrate the artistic work of five famous performers. The lights of the Kennedy Center will shine on opera singer Luciano Pavarotti, actress Julie Andrews and pianist Van Cliburn. Music writer and producer Quincy Jones and actor Jack Nicholson also will be honored.

Luciano Pavarotti is one of the performers being honored. He is sixty-six years old. During forty years as an opera singer, he has performed in almost every major opera and concert hall in the world. He also has sung in sports centers and public parks in an effort to bring opera to more people. And he has appeared in many operas broadcast on television.

Mr. Pavarotti was born In Modena, Italy. He first sang in public as a child with the Modena Choir. In Nineteen-Sixty-One, he got his first job as a paid singer. He performed the part of Rodolfo in Giacomo Puccini's opera "La Boheme." Soon he was singing this part all over Italy.

In Nineteen-Sixty-Five Mr. Pavarotti sang for the first time at La Scala in Milan, Italy. He appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for the first time three years later. Critics praised the warmth and beauty of his high tenor voice.

Today, Luciano Pavarotti has sold more records than any other classical music performer. He also has recorded many popular songs. In recent years Mr. Pavarotti has appeared in concerts with Jose Carreras and Placido Domingo. The three famous singers are known as "The Three Tenors." Music lovers keep requesting more of these concerts. Here, Luciano Pavarotti sings music from the first opera in which he appeared - "La Boheme."

((CUT ONE: CHE GELIDA MANINA))

Julie Andrews has won many honors in American musical theater, films and television. She was born in Walton-on-Thames, England sixty-six years ago. Miss Andrews first performed in London in Nineteen-Forty-Six, at age eleven. She also sang with her father on British Broadcasting Corporation radio programs. Before age twenty, she was on her way to the musical theater in New York City.

Julie Andrews first appeared on Broadway in "The Boy Friend." She was an immediate success. Her next musical was "My Fair Lady," for which she won the New York Drama Critics Award.

Ms. Andrews later appeared in successful films like "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music." She also appeared in musical television programs like "Cinderella." Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote this show for her. In recent years she starred in both the movie and Broadway musical "Victor/Victoria." Here Julie Andrews sings "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music."

((CUT TWO: MY FAVORITE THINGS))

Critics say Van Cliburn is one of the greatest piano performers in history. He has served as a musical ambassador, bringing American culture to other nations. He also established the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition to support young musicians. It is held in Fort Worth Texas every four years. And Mr. Cliburn continues to perform. Currently he is playing concerts throughout the United States.

Van Cliburn was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in Nineteen-Thirty-Four. By age twelve he had won every major local piano competition. He first appeared at Carnegie Hall in New York City in Nineteen-Fifty-Four.

Four years later Mr. Cliburn won the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. That was during the height of tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States. He became an American hero. He was the first musician honored with a parade in New York City.

Later Mr. Cliburn recorded the music he played when he won the competition. His recordings of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Number One have sold millions of copies.

((CUT THREE: PIANO CONCERTO NUMBER ONE))

Quincy Jones was born in Nineteen-Thirty-Three in Chicago, Illinois. Today he is recognized for influencing music in many ways. His honors include twenty-six Grammy Awards for recorded music and a historic seventy-six nominations.

By age thirteen, the young Quincy Jones had tried all the musical instruments in his school band. Another young man who was to become a famous musician was his best friend. Together, Ray Charles and Quincy Jones made all kinds of music.

Mr. Jones has continued that tradition of playing, writing and producing all kinds of music. His musical creations include hip hop, jazz, classical, soul and African and Brazilian music. He has written the music for thirty-three films and a number of television programs.

Mr. Jones has written music for artists like Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Count Basie and Cannonball Adderly.

In Nineteen-Eighty-Two, he and Michael Jackson made an album called "Thriller." It sold more than thirty-million copies. Quincy Jones also produced a recording by a group of famous performers called "We Are the World." It sold more copies than any other single recording ever made.

In addition to music, Quincy Jones is a lifelong activist for civil rights. He wrote this song, "Free at Last? (The Civil War)" for the television drama "Roots".

((CUT FOUR: FREE AT LAST? [THE CIVIL WAR]))

Jack Nicholson has been a major film actor for more than thirty years. He is known especially for playing men who rebel against traditional values and established rules.

Mr. Nicholson has won three Academy Awards and received eleven other nominations. Many artistic organizations have named him "Best Actor." They include the Cannes Film Festival and the National Society of Film Critics.

Jack Nicholson was born in Neptune, New Jersey in Nineteen-Thirty-Seven. As a young man, he moved to Los Angeles, California to study acting. He appeared in his first movie in Nineteen-Fifty-Eight. For ten years after that, he appeared in low-budget criminal and monster movies.

Jack Nicholson became a star in Nineteen-Sixty-Nine after acting in the film "Easy Rider." Then he gained more success in "Five Easy Pieces" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Over the years he has won praise for playing many kinds of characters. In movies like "Reds" and "A Few Good Men" he played serious parts. In movies like "Batman" he made people laugh. In "The Shining" he made people frightened. Jack Nicholson also has written, produced and directed films. But he says, "I love to act. I just love the work."

Luciano Pavarotti, Julie Andrews, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones and Jack Nicholson are all special performers. The Kennedy Center will honor them for sharing their special gifts with people around the world.

This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Caty Weaver. Our studio engineer was Mick Shaw. I'm Sarah Long. And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.


"This Is America" in VOA Special English
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Source: THIS IS AMERICA - November 26, 2001: Kennedy Center Honors
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