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VOA's Willis Conover Presented Jazz, the Universal Language - 2002-08-01


A VOA Snapshot - Part of VOA's 60th Anniversary Year Coverage

From the 1950s to the mid-1990s, VOA listeners the world over tuned in to the sound of American jazz, as presented in more than 25,000 programs by Willis Conover.

Jazz is America's Classical Music

In a 1994 documentary, Mr. Conover explained why he felt that jazz was a wonderful way to convey a sense of America around the world.

"America," he said, "is made up of people who came from many different cultures and jazz was born of that, African tribal call-and-response and drumming, but also European harmonies."

For Willis Conover, his Jazz program was almost like a separate VOA language service. Mr. Conover said, "It's another form of speech, jazz is. It's a kind of self-disciplined freedom. All kinds of emotions are expressed sadness and joy and lust and anger and excitement and quiet. All of this comes out in the music."

Willis Conover's language, jazz, proved to be one of VOA's most popular over the years. Today, six years after his death, his name is still often affectionately invoked by his fans, especially in Eastern Europe and the nations of the former Soviet Union.

To write to us about our anniversary, send an email to anniversary@voanews.com. Or, send regular mail to Anniversary, VOA News Now, Washington, D.C. 20237, USA.

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