Michelle Shocked: So Much to Sing, It Takes Three Records



HOST: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

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

Music from Michele Shocked …

A question from a listener about the Reverend Billy Graham …

And a report about a new owner of a professional basketball team.

New Mystics Owner

HOST: The Women's National Basketball Association is in its ninth season. One team is excited about a new member of its organization. Faith Lapidus tells us more.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Sheila Johnson recently became the first African-American woman to own a Women's National Basketball Association team. She shares in the ownership of the Washington Mystics.

Miz Johnson joined an ownership group that bought the team. She also shares in the ownership of two other professional sports teams in Washington, D.C. -- the Washington Wizards men's basketball team and the Washington Capitals hockey team. Miz Johnson is believed to be the only black woman to have ownership of three professional sports teams. Sheila Johnson will serve as the Mystics president and managing partner. She also will represent the Mystics at board of governor meetings.

The Washington Mystics joined the Women's National Basketball Association in nineteen ninety-seven. Abe and Irene Pollin founded the team. Mister Pollin also is majority owner of the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards. Mister Pollin has known Sheila Johnson for twenty years. He chose her to share in ownership of the team. Mister Pollin says she is the best person to guide the team.

Sheila Johnson is also a very successful businesswoman. She and her former husband, Bob Johnson, started Black Entertainment Television in nineteen eighty. It was the first cable television network aimed at African-American viewers. They sold the company in nineteen ninety-seven.

Miz Johnson is also president of the Washington International Horse Show. She has given millions of dollars to many aid organizations, including schools and programs to support children's art education.

Sheila Johnson says she is excited to work with the women of the Washington Mystics. She praised their abilities as athletes and as women.

Billy Graham

HOST: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Mannur, India. C.V.S. Prasad wants to know about the Reverend Billy Graham.

Billy Graham is probably the most famous religious leader in America. He is an Evangelistic Christian. He considers the Christian holy book, the Bible, as exact truth and the word of God.

Billy Graham was born in nineteen eighteen. He was raised on a farm in North Carolina. Graham says he was sixteen when he decided that he would surrender his life to Jesus Christ.

He studied to be a Christian church leader at Florida Bible Institute, graduating in nineteen forty. He began giving religious talks on the streets and in small churches before he even became a minister.

Graham also got a degree from Wheaton College in Illinois in nineteen forty-three. That same year he married Ruth Bell, another Wheaton student.

Billy Graham says his one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God. He says he believes this comes through knowing Christ.

This was his purpose when he launched his first major Christian event in Los Angeles, California in nineteen forty-nine. He called it an Evangelistic Crusade. It brought fame to Mister Graham and to his Christian campaign. Similar events followed the next year in London and New York City. Tens of thousands of people attended to hear Mister Graham speak.

Over the years, Billy Graham has spoken to an estimated two hundred million people around the world. He has gained many awards and honors. Presidents and other important officials have sought his advice. He has appeared at national events, like presidential inaugurations, to lead prayers. Mister Graham also has used television and radio in his evangelical effort. And, he has written books and made movies to spread his message.

Ruth and Billy Graham have five children. One of them, Franklin, is following in his father's steps as a national Christian leader.

Billy Graham is now eighty-six. He has Parkinson's disease and prostate cancer. In June, he held another three-day Evangelistic Crusade in a park in New York City. More than seventy thousand people attended each day. He said it would be his last event in the United States. He said he knew he was coming to the end of his ministry and his life.

Michelle Shocked

Not every musician releases three albums at the same time. Singer Michelle Shocked has done just that with her new album set called "Threesome." Barbara Klein tells us more about this special performer.

BARBARA KLEIN: Michelle Shocked is not your average musician. She plays many kinds of songs, from blues and rock to gospel and country music. She not only sings these songs, but also writes them and plays the guitar. Shocked is also very politically active. She likes to express her beliefs about women's rights and spirituality. She believes that the power of music can change the world.

Michelle Shocked often tells about herself in her music. In one of the three new albums, "Don't Ask Don't Tell," she sings about the pleasures and pains of love. This song is called "How You Play the Game."


Another of the new albums is called "Mexican Standoff." Here, Shocked mixes musical traditions. She combines the sounds of her native state of Texas with the sounds of Latino music. She even sings in Spanish. Here is one example, "La Cantina el Gato Negro."


The third album is called "Got No Strings." Shocked takes several well known songs from Walt Disney movies and performs them with a country music sound. We leave you now as Michelle Shocked performs "A Dream Is a Wish."


HOST: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program.

This show was written by Dana Demange, Lawan Davis and Caty Weaver, who also was our producer.

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