Swift Wins Top Prize At AMAs, Says She’s Re-Recording Music

Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at the American Music Awards, but she missed the show for a good reason: She said she’s busy re-recording her early music after her catalog was sold.
In a video that aired during Sunday’s awards show, the pop star said “the reason I’m not there tonight is I’m actually re-recording all of my old music in the studio where we originally recorded it. So it’s been amazing. And I can’t wait for you to hear it.”
Last year music manager Scooter Braun — who manages Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande — announced that his Ithaca Holdings company had acquired Big Machine Label Group, the home to Swift’s first six albums. This month Braun said he has sold the master rights to Swift’s first six albums to an investment company; Swift acknowledged the sale on social media and said she would not work with the new buyers because Braun was still involved.
Instead, she headed back to the studio.
Swift beat out Bieber, Post Malone and Roddy Ricch to win the top award. She also won favorite music video and favorite pop/rock female artist, winning three honors and tying Bieber, Dan + Shay and the Weeknd for most wins Sunday.
The Weeknd lost artist of the year, but he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, he won favorite soul/R&B male artist, favorite soul/R&B album for “After Hours” and favorite soul/R&B song for “Heartless” two days before the 2021 Grammy nominations are announced.
“The last time I received this award it was given to me by the late, great Prince,” he said after winning favorite soul/R&B album. “And, you know, he’s the reason I get to constantly challenge the genre of R&B and yeah, I’d like to dedicate this to him.”
The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout the three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He accepted his awards and performed with his face wrapped in gauze.
Kenny G joined the Weeknd for his performance, playing the sax in downtown Los Angeles as the Weeknd walked across a bridge singing “In Your Eyes.” He finished the performance singing “Save Your Tears.”
The Weeknd was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others recently taped their performances because of the coronavirus pandemic, though host Taraji P. Henson — who appeared live from the venue — said the few audience members sitting in the mezzanine practiced social distancing, wore masks and were tested for the virus.
Henson joked that A-list celebrities were in the audience, including Beyoncé, though cardboard cut-out of the singer, Jay-Z and other stars appeared in seats.
But a good number of chart-toppers were in the building. Breakthrough singer-rapper Doja Cat performed and won new artist of the year and favorite soul/R&B female artist. Grammy-winning country duo Dan + Shay beautifully performed “I Should Probably Go to Bed” and won favorite country duo or group, collaboration of the year and favorite country song for “10,000 Hours,” the latter two shared with Bieber. And Megan Thee Stallion — won favorite rap/hip-hop songs for “WAP” with Cardi B — performed “Body” from her recently released debut album “Good News.”
Bieber and Shawn Mendes kicked off the AMAs with a pre-taped performance of their new duet “Monster,” marking the first time they performed the song together. It began with a stripped-down Bieber singing his recent hit “Lonely,” with songwriter-producer Benny Blanco on piano, and “Holy,” where background dancers wearing masks joined him.
Mendes, strumming his guitar, then appeared for “Monster,” which featured the twentysomethings singing lyrics about about fame and growing up as celebrities who attracted massive public attention. Mendes later sang his song “Wonder” during the show, which aired on ABC.
Katy Perry, in her first performance since giving birth to her first child, gave a strong performance of the emotional and hopeful song “Only Love,” which featured a surprise guest appearance from Darius Rucker, who sang and played guitar. With flaming red lights glaring behind her, Billie Eilish sang her new song “Therefore I Am,” as her brother-songwriter-producer Finneas backed her on guitar. Jennifer Lopez and Maluma teamed up to perform their new songs “Pa’ Ti” and “Lonely” from the film “Marry Me,” which both of them star in, while Dua Lipa — who won favorite pop/rock song — floated in the air during her performance of “Levitating.”
24kGoldn and Iann Dior — who currently have the country’s No. 1 song with the smash hit “Mood,” also performed. The multi-genre track is the rare song that has reached No. 1 on both the rap and rock charts.
Other performers included BTS, Lewis Capaldi, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Baby, Bell Biv DeVoe and Nelly, who performed hits from his diamond-certified debut album “Country Grammar,” which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
This year the AMAs, which typically awards one Latin honor, launched more categories in the genre. Becky G — who burst on the music scene in 2014 with the pop hit “Shower” but has recently had success singing in Spanish and launching hits on the Latin charts — won favorite Latin female artist.
She used her speech to honor immigrant families.
“I proudly wave both flags, Mexican and American. And like many, many children and grandchildren of immigrants, no matter where they’re from, we have learned from the ones before us what sacrifice and hard work looks like,” she said. “And I dedicate this award to all of our immigrant workers in this pandemic; the students and immigrant families. It’s because of my family, my abuelitos, that I stand here today.”
Nominees for the AMAs were based on streaming, album and digital sales, radio airplay and social activity, and reflect the time period of Sept. 27, 2019, through Sept. 24, 2020.

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Ten Restaurants That Changed How America Eats

Delmonico’s, America’s very first restaurant, is also one of its most influential, according to Yale University history professor Paul Freedman. “It defined what elegant food was in the 19th century United States, and that has influenced, to some extent, the food that is eaten today,” Freedman says. Founded in 1830, Delmonico’s invented lobster Newberg and baked Alaska, and continues to serve those and other dishes at its New York City location. “America’s first real successful restaurant … Delmonico’s is kind of a no-brainer because it’s the first restaurant, but it’s also very enduring,” Freedman says. “It’s created in the 1830s, but in 1890, it’s still considered the best restaurant in the U.S. A lot of restaurants elsewhere called themselves, like, the Delmonico’s of Indianapolis, and it becomes a shorthand term for fancy.” Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City in an undated photo. (Courtesy Delmonico’s)In his book, “Ten Restaurants That Changed America,” Freedman names nine other restaurants that have had a far-reaching influence on what Americans eat. Yale University Professor Paul Freedman, author of “Ten Restaurants That Changed America.” (Courtesy Yale University)“I chose them both for just the delight of restaurants as places, but also as a way of talking about American history,” he says. “Because you can’t talk about restaurants without talking about ethnicity, immigration, variety and different social settings. …  So, this was intended not as a kind of history of a bunch of dishes, but as a history of American society seen through its restaurants.” Howard Johnson’s, the orange-roofed restaurant that once dotted American highways, makes the list. “It was roadside food. It was chain food. It pioneered the franchise as a way of expansion, where you give the person running it a stake,” Freedman says. “He also pioneered logos and identity. Howard Deering Johnson, the founder, located his restaurants strategically on roads where the driver going 60 could see the restaurant in time safely and easily to break and pull up, and for that you need, you know, big and instantly recognizable features.” In this April 8, 2015 photo, customers walk into Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Lake George, New York.Howard Johnson’s did not survive the competition it helped spawn, like McDonald’s and other fast-food restaurants, but it left its mark as the first restaurant chain to guarantee patrons the same food and menu, no matter which franchise they visited. Also on the list is the Mandarin, a Chinese restaurant opened in San Francisco in 1961 by Cecilia Chang. “Cecilia Chang didn’t invent high-end Chinese food — but almost,” Freedman says. “She really is the first person to successfully retail that.” The staff of Sylvia’s in Harlem in 1980. (Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress)Other women-run restaurants Freedman highlights include Sylvia’s in Harlem. Born in South Carolina, Sylvia Woods brought Southern cooking and the idea of a neighborhood restaurant as a community gathering place to New York. “Sylvia’s in Harlem does not invent what is sometimes called down-home food or soul food, but it exemplifies that kind of cuisine and is also an example of the story of African American migration from the South to the North,” Freedman says. Mamma Leone’s, also in New York, helped bring Italian cuisine to the American masses. Luisa Leone opened her eatery in 1906 and was able to expand her clientele beyond Italian American diners, creating a model for other immigrant business owners to follow. “Mamma Leone’s not only served something like 3,000 people a day, and many of them tourists, and so a lot of people got their idea of what Italian food ought to be,” Freedman says. “And a lot of people opened restaurants in small towns that imitated Mamma Leone’s.” Menu from Mamma Leone’s restaurant in New York City, which closed in 1994. (Courtesy New York Public Library)Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, in 1971. She pioneered a trend in American cooking with local and in-season ingredients that continues today. Although these female restaurateurs served up vastly different foods, they shared some attributes. “Flair. Inventiveness. Doing something that was not completely unfamiliar … but was familiar but better,” Freedman says. “Better than the competition. And that better was because of an emphasis on quality, an introduction of dishes that expanded people’s horizons, or reminding people of home.” Waiter Austin Murray brings plated dishes from the kitchen to the dining room at Antoine’s Restaurant in New Orleans, Sept. 11, 2015.The other restaurants on Freedman’s list include The Four Seasons in New York, (which opened in 1959 and pioneered fine American cuisine at a time when French food dominated that space), and Le Pavillon in New York, Antoine’s in New Orleans, and Schrafft’s in Boston. Most of Freedman’s picks are on the East or West Coast. “I think it has to do with New York and San Francisco being ports, and so, the first place where immigrants opened up restaurants, and also fashion leaders,” he says. “So, all these places are on the coast, including New Orleans, and they’re just places where immigrants came and polyglot places where new things were first tried out.”  Six of the restaurants on Freedman’s list are still open, or in the case of the Four Seasons, planning to reopen. The others are closed, but their influence on what Americans eat has endured.

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Cambodian-Canadian Actress Ellen Wong Plays Child of Refugee in Film

Ellen Wong is a Cambodian-Canadian actress well known in Hollywood. But as VOA’s Chetra Chap reports, her latest role hits very close to home.
Camera: Chetra Chap

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Blackfeet Boxing Documentary Casts Light on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

“Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible” is a documentary that shows how Native American women at the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana, take up boxing to defend themselves from abduction, rape and domestic abuse – an epidemic in Native American communities. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.Camera and Produced by:  Penelope Poulou 

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Olympics Chief Confident Spectators Will Be in Attendance for Postponed Tokyo Games

The head of the International Olympic Committee said he is “very confident” that spectators will be allowed to attend next year’s postponed Tokyo Olympic Summer Games — as long as they are vaccinated against COVID-19.   IOC President Thomas Bach made the pledge Monday in the Japanese capital after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for two days of talks to discuss the coronavirus  countermeasures organizers are putting in place for the Games.   Bach said the IOC “will undertake great efforts” to ensure all Olympic participants and visitors are vaccinated before they arrive in Japan next July, if a vaccine is available by then, so that spectators will have “a safe environment.”  The Tokyo Olympics were initially scheduled to be held between July and August of this year, but organizers and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to postpone the event for a year as the pandemic began spreading across the globe.   Organizers’ hopes that the Games could still be held were boosted last week after Tokyo successfully hosted an international gymnastics competition. But public opinion surveys suggest most Japanese residents are opposed to staging the Games. Organizers said last week that participating athletes will not have to enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine period when they arrive. Tokyo Olympics Chief Executive Toshiro Muto told reporters that a decision on allowing foreign spectators to observe the events would be finalized next year, but said it is a possibility the two-week quarantine could be waived for them as well.   

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Johnson Finally Wins Masters With Record Low Score

Dustin Johnson finally clinched an elusive second major title Sunday with a five-stroke victory at the Masters, as he overcame a shaky start to his final round to end with a tournament-record low score at Augusta National.Johnson led throughout the final round, though only by one stroke early, and did not drop a shot in the final 13 holes on his way to a four-under-par 68 and an unprecedented 20-under-par 268 total.Australian Cameron Smith and South Korean Im Sung-jae both shot 69 to tie for second on 15-under.”I was nervous all day,” Johnson said in the traditional Butler Cabin interview before being presented with the green jacket by last year’s champion Tiger Woods.”I could feel it. The Masters to me is the biggest tournament, the one I wanted to win the most.”Having Tiger put the green jacket on you, it still feels like a dream…I couldn’t be more excited.”Johnson, from nearby Columbia, South Carolina, did not get to enjoy what would have been a magnificent reception from the gallery at the 18th green.Instead, he received polite applause from the several hundred people allowed on site, with paying patrons absent this year because of coronavirus restrictions.The victory, however, will go a long way to cementing the 36-year-old Johnson’s reputation as a pre-eminent player of his generation.He previously won the 2016 U.S. Open, but before Sunday was 0-4 when leading into the final round at majors and had a reputation of frequently not rising to the occasion in the biggest moments.Among his near misses was a tie for second behind Woods at last year’s Masters

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Marlins Name Ng MLB’s First Female GM

The Miami Marlins hired Kim Ng as Major League Baseball’s first female general manager on Friday.”I entered Major League Baseball as an intern and, after decades of determination, it is the honor of my career to lead the Miami Marlins as their next general manager,” Ng said in a statement.Ng, 51, has more than 30 years of experience in the majors, working in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox (1990-96), New York Yankees (1998-2001) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2002-11), and in the MLB Commissioner’s Office (2011-20).Most recently she was the MLB senior vice president of baseball and softball development. She is the first woman hired to the general manager position by any of the professional men’s sports teams in the North American major leagues.”All of us at Major League Baseball are thrilled for Kim and the opportunity she has earned with the Marlins,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Kim’s appointment makes history in all of professional sports and sets a significant example for the millions of women and girls who love baseball and softball. The hard work, leadership and record of achievement throughout her long career in the national pastime led to this outcome, and we wish Kim all the best as she begins her career with the Marlins.”Born in Indianapolis to parents of Chinese descent, Ng also becomes the first Asian American GM in the majors.Ng developed a working relationship with Marlins CEO Derek Jeter during her time with the Yankees.The Marlins, under National League Manager of the Year Don Mattingly, finished second in the N.L. East with a 31-29 record during the abbreviated 2020 season.They were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the division series.”This challenge is one I don’t take lightly,” Ng said. “When I got into this business it seemed unlikely a woman would lead a major league team, but I am dogged in the pursuit of my goals.”My goal is to bring championship baseball to Miami. I am both humbled and eager to continue building the winning culture our fans expect and deserve.” 

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Ivy League Cancels Winter Sports Because of COVID-19

The Ivy League became the first Division I conference this year to cancel all winter sports, including men’s and women’s basketball.
 
The decision Thursday came 13 days before the scheduled start of the college basketball season. The league had decided this past summer, when it canceled fall sports, not to allow any of its sports to start play before early December.
 
“Regrettably, the current trends regarding transmission of the COVID-19 virus and subsequent protocols that must be put in place are impeding our strong desire to return to intercollegiate athletics competition in a safe manner,” the Ivy League presidents said in a joint statement.
 
“Student-athletes, their families and coaches are again being asked to make enormous sacrifices for the good of public health — and we do not make this decision lightly.
 
“While these decisions come with great disappointment and frustration, our commitment to the safety and lasting health of our student-athletes and wider communities must remain our highest priority.”
 
Coaches and athletes were informed of the news on video conference calls Thursday evening.
 
The news comes as the coronavirus cases are soaring across the U.S. Newly confirmed cases per day in the U.S. have rocketed more than 70% over the past two weeks, reaching an average of about 127,000 — the highest on record. And the number of people hospitalized with the virus hit an all-time high of more than 65,000.
 
Deaths per day in the U.S. have soared more than 40% over the past two weeks, from an average of about 790 to more than 1,100 as of Wednesday, the highest level in three months. That’s still well below the peak of about 2,200 deaths per day in late April.
 
The Ivy League has tried to be in front of the virus. The league was the first conference to scrap its postseason basketball tournament last March. That preceded a cascade of cancellations. All major college and professional sports were halted within days.
 
The Ivy League announcement affects not just basketball, but wrestling, indoor track and field, swimming, fencing and other sports. The league also said that spring sports are postponed through at least the end of February 2021.
 
Also Thursday, Pittsburgh’s game at Georgia Tech was postponed after the Panthers were forced to pause team activities due to COVID-19 protocols.
 
The Atlantic Coast Conference said both teams were having COVID-19 issues and the game slated for Saturday will instead be played Dec. 12.
 
Also, Conference USA announced Rice at Louisiana Tech scheduled for Saturday had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues with La Tech. No make-up date has been set.
 
There have been 57 games between schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision to be canceled or postponed because of the pandemic since late August — and 10 this week.
 
The Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have all been forced to scramble at times this season. The Atlantic Coast Conference has not been immune, though most of the issues were in early September. This is the fifth conference game in the ACC to be postponed. One has already been made-up and Louisville at Virginia is scheduled to be played Saturday after it was postponed last week.
 
The conference has enjoyed relatively smooth sailing in recent weeks, though several high-profile players have been dealing with COVID-19, including Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
 
Pitt is still scheduled to host Virginia Tech in its home finale on Nov. 21 and travel to Clemson on Nov. 28.

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Australia Showcases Diverse Indigenous Languages

A new project is celebrating the linguistic culture of Australia’s Aboriginal communities by working to introduce Australians to everyday words and phrases from hundreds of Indigenous languages.The 50 Words Project is an interactive online language map. Words and phrases from across the continent are brought to life with recordings from Indigenous speakers. It is run by the University of Melbourne’s Research Unit for Indigenous Language and aims to maintain linguistic and cultural heritage. Jill Vaughan from the academic unit says she hopes it will help more Australians understand rich linguistic traditions. “It is, unfortunately, quite a common misconception that there is only one Indigenous Australian language, when, in fact, there are hundreds of languages, each with thousands and thousands of words,” she said. “It is also the case that for some Australians, they assume that Indigenous languages are just a relic of the past, and this isn’t the case at all.”  Researchers say the sounds used in Australia’s Indigenous languages are very similar across the country. Neighboring communities, however, can have very different words for the same things. Some Indigenous languages in Australia have faded away since European colonization, while others are spoken by just a handful of people and are considered critically endangered. Until the 1970s, government policies banned and discouraged Aboriginal people from speaking their mother tongues. Indigenous communities consider languages to be living things that connect people to their land, culture and the spirits of their ancestors.   Aboriginal history in Australia dates back up to 65,000 years. Indigenous people make up about 3% of the national population of 25 million. 
 

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How Ordinary People Are Buying Masterpieces Worth Millions

Anyone can now own a small share of a great masterpiece. Vladimir Lenski has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.
Camera: Max Avloshenko

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Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo, First Female Olympic Oath Taker, Dies at 88

Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo, the first female athlete to deliver the Olympic oath, in 1956, and the first woman to win a Winter Games medal for Italy four years earlier, has died at the age of 88. The Italian was hailed by her country’s alpine skiing federation as “one of the greatest post-war champions.” Chenal-Minuzzo won downhill bronze in the 1952 Oslo Olympics, going on to claim a second bronze at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games, that time in the giant slalom. FILE – Italian Alpine skier Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo reads the Olympic oath, on behalf of all the athletes taking part, at the opening ceremony of the seventh Winter Olympic Games, at Cortina, Italy, Jan.26, 1956.At the intervening 1956 Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games, she broke ground by delivering the Olympic oath. First pronounced by Belgian athlete Victor Boin (water polo, swimming and fencing) at the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games, the Olympic oath of modern times was similar to that taken by the Olympic athletes of ancient times – but at the modern Olympic Games, the athletes swear on the Olympic flag, not on the entrails of a sacrificed animal. The modern Olympic oath, originally written by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president and founder Pierre de Coubertin, has been modified over time to reflect the changing nature of the sporting competition. The oath taker is from the host nation and takes the oath on behalf of all athletes participating at those Olympic Games. Oaths for officials and coaches were added in 1972 and 2010 respectively. 
 

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New US Army Museum Opens On Veterans Day

For the first time, the United States Army has its own museum.  The National Museum of the United States Army opens on Veterans Day Wednesday in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Army is the only U.S. military service that did not have a national museum. Located 32 kilometers from Washington, D.C., the museum traces the history of the country’s oldest military service, which began 245 years ago in 1775.The exterior of the National Museum of the United States Army at twilight. The simplicity and sharpness of the exterior allows reflections to be cast on the façade transforming the character of the building through every season and time of day.The large five-story complex features interactive and dramatic historical exhibits, along with thousands of documents, images, artwork and artifacts, big and small. They include an iconic Sherman tank used in World War II, a helicopter from the Vietnam War, an armored personnel carrier from the Iraq War in 2003, and a saddle for horseback riding by Army special forces in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2001.     A life-size exhibit illustrates American forces storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day during World War II.   Helmets, swords and medals are also featured, and even a watch that was found in a damaged section of the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks.Cast figures, lighting effects, imagery, and sounds of distant battle recreate a setting based on a famous photograph of the Meuse-Argonne Allied Offensive during World War I.Although many exhibits focus on wartime activities, the museum also highlights peacekeeping operations and humanitarian missions around the world, Tammy Call, director of the museum, told VOA.  A major exhibit called Soldier Stories tells “the individual soldier story” as part of the comprehensive history, explained Call, a civilian who is an Army veteran, “and so it allows us to get very personal and reflective,” she added.   Jack Querfeld, director of internal affairs at the American Legion headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, was impressed that the various battles shown in the exhibits “put a human face on it, instead of just saying we fought here.” “The National Army Museum will be a place for members of the total Army family to gather and share their stories,” said Ryan D. McCarthy, secretary of the Army. That means a lot to B.J. Lawrence, executive director for the Washington, D.C., office of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Lawrence was an Army sergeant in South Korea in the early 1980s.The “Huey” was the iconic helicopter of the Vietnam War. The helicopters arrived in Vietnam in 1962 as aerial ambulances.He said the museum is “phenomenal,” and as he toured the complex, he found “the exhibits that pertain to the Korean War had an especially touching effect on me.”   “I continue to advocate to bring the soldiers home that were missing in action,” Lawrence said. Querfeld said, “I think the museum will help children now and those from generations to come understand what their military forefathers experienced.”  The museum “tells us how important military service is to our nation,” Lawrence said. “And it helps to explain and put into perspective why the American people enjoy the freedoms they do today.” 

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