Letters: Essence Festival, Cheese Song Contest

Melissa Block and Robert Siegel read emails from listeners about the New Orleans Essence Festival and a cheese song contest in England.

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It's time now for your letters. Yesterday, we told you about the Essence Festival in New Orleans. For the past 17 years, it's been a go-to event for African-Americans, especially African-American women. There are gospel and R&B performances, as well as panels on politics, financial planning and parenting.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

But, while many of you enjoyed our story, you weren't so thrilled about the music that followed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIEGEL: Really, asked listener Bruce McMann(ph) of Denver. You play a song with lyrics, wobble, baby, wobble, baby. Let me see your chest.

BLOCK: Kevin Minnehan(ph) of Chesterfield, Missouri, adds, I'm not sure that the music fadeout on the Essence Festival story is appropriate, as I picked up a sexist and racist attitude in the song. The story otherwise seemed to present the presence of Afro-feminine opportunity. I'm not familiar with the song. Am I missing something?

SIEGEL: And Elizabeth Call(ph) of Las Cruces, New Mexico writes this: I have spent years avoiding such offensive songs that objectify women and reduce us to body parts and the last place I expected to be assaulted by such bilge was on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Please, restrict yourselves to musical selections without lyrics so that future listeners don't have the risk of being offended by lyrics.

BLOCK: Well, cheese haters, you might want to cover your ears for this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) We love our cheddar cheese. No imitations, please. We love our cheese.

BLOCK: Yes. They do love their cheese. Cheddar cheese, to be exact. The British Cheese Board is on the hunt for the be all and end all anthem for cheddar. Lyricists were asked to set their odes to one of three traditional British tunes, the hamlet, "Jerusalem," the patriotic classic, "Land of Hope and Glory" or the national anthem.

SIEGEL: Well, Eric Anderson(ph) of Jackson, Ohio, writes that our story seemed awfully familiar.

JOHN CLEESE: I want to buy some cheese.

SIEGEL: That's John Cleese in a "Monty Python" sketch about his thwarted attempt to buy cheese at a cheese shop.

CLEESE: Any Danish (unintelligible)?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: No.

CLEESE: Czechoslovakian sheep's milk cheese, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: No.

CLEESE: Some Venezuelan beaver cheese?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Not today, sir. No.

CLEESE: Well, let's keep it simple. How about cheddar?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Well, I'm afraid we don't get much call for it around these parts, sir.

CLEESE: But it's the single most popular cheese in the world.

SIEGEL: Mr. Anderson writes, are you sure this British cheese board story isn't the reincarnation of "Monty Python?" Sure sounded like it. I wanted to join the silly party and hear further adventures of the Dinsdale brothers and sing the "Lumberjack Song" after hearing this piece. Bravo.

BLOCK: Well, jeers or applause, please send us your letters. Go to NPR.org and click on Contact Us.

SIEGEL: And now for something completely different.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LUMBERJACK SONG")

MICHAEL PALIN: (Singing) I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK. I sleep all night and I work all day. I cut down trees. I skip and jump. I like to press wild flowers. I put on women's clothing and hang around in bars.

BLOCK: This is NPR.

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