The Grammy Awards for the year’s top musicians

08 February, 2013

From VOA Learning English, welcome to AS IT IS!

Hello, I’m your host, Kelly Jean Kelly.

We have been talking this weekend about the Grammy Awards for the year’s top musicians. Today, we will listen to music by some of the country music nominees. But first, we’d like to introduce you to trumpet player Gabriel Johnson. That also happens to be the name of his new, and first, album. Here is the song “Jazz Cats” from the album “Introducing Gabriel Johnson.” 

Critics have likened Gabriel Johnson to a young Miles Davis. Davis was one of Gabriel Johnson’s most important musical influences. But, it was another famous performer who helped launch his career: filmmaker and jazz lover Clint Eastwood. Gabriel Johnson remembers his first visit to the actor’s home in Northern California.
“He was real cool and complimentary and he said, ‘You’ve got a great sound. Do you want to come back tomorrow, I’m working on this movie and I think you could be right for it.’  And I said, ‘Ok, sure.’ ” 
Gabriel Johnson discovered jazz while growing up in the central California community of Salinas. His grandmother supported his decision to become a musician. She urged him to listen to jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard.

Gabriel Johnson completed a study program at the New England Conservatory of Music in Massachusetts. He then returned to California and began working with a number of music artists. 

Gabriel Johnson’s new album includes many songs he created on his own. But it also includes a sad version of an old song called “Summertime.”
“A lot of people have done it in a really up way or a really happy way, and I always just thought that my horn fits best in like a sort of moodier context.”
Johnson says he thinks about music from the moment he wakes up until the time he goes to bed. But, he says it never feels like work to him.  

“If this is hard work, bring me all the hard work I can get.”

For more about Gabriel Johnson and his new album, visit his website at  The 55th yearly Grammy Awards will be presented on February 10 in Los Angeles.  The ceremony honors some of the year’s best singers, songwriters and performers. Today Mario Ritter talks about some of the country music nominees.

“Country music” usually comes out of traditions from the American so uth and west. Country songs are often romantic or sad, and many tell a story.    

“Springsteen” by Eric Church is one of six songs nominated for Best Country Solo Performance. That is, a performance by one person. Eric Church’s song is about a girl he loved when he was young. It also includes the names of songs that Bruce Springsteen made famous. For instance, “I’m on Fire” and “Born to Run.”

Performances by two or more are also considered for a Grammy. Last year, a group called the Civil Wars won the award for Best Country Duo or Group Performance.  The Civil Wars earned a nomination again this year for this song, called “Safe and Sound.” It was used in the 2012 science fiction film “The Hunger Games.” 

Taylor Swift wrote “Safe and Sound.” She will be one of the artists who perform live in the Grammy Awards ceremony this year.

Another Grammy award will go to the Best New Artist. Only two country singers have ever won this award before. They were LeAnn Rimes and Carrie Underwood. This year a young country singer named Hunter Hayes is competing for the honor. He is twenty-one-years old. Here’s Hunter Hayes with the song “Wanted.”  

Tomorrow on “As It Is,” we will hear more songs nominated for Grammys this year. 

I’m Mario Ritter.  

And I’m Kelly Jean Kelly. That’s AS IT IS for today. 

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