Mars Teen Reveals 'Curiously' Inspiring Playlist

Teenager Clara Ma was just twelve when she won an essay contest to name the Mars rover. She recently told host Michel Martin how she came up with the name, "Curiosity" for the rover that's currently exploring the Red Planet. For Tell Me More's occasional series, "In Your Ear," Clara Ma shares the songs that keep her looking to the sky.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for the occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's where guests of our program tell us about songs they listen to for a little inspiration. Today, we are hearing from Clara Ma. She won an essay contest when she was 12, which earned her the right to name NASA's Mars rover. She called it "Curiosity." And here's what's playing in her ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT THE SKY")

CLARA MA: My name is Clara Ma, and this is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT THE SKY")

LUCY SCHWARTZ: (Singing) I'm ready, ready to run free. I'd like to know what lies beyond the blue sea. You live once, so...

MA: My favorite song right now, I think, is "I Want the Sky," by Lucy Schwartz.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT THE SKY")

SCHWARTZ: (Singing) ...lessons from the birds and the bees. I want the sky to open wide, illuminate this fire inside...

MA: I think it's just - it's really happy, and it's full of promise and hope. And it's just really, really full of life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WANT THE SKY")

SCHWARTZ: (Singing) These buildings, high above me are so much taller than the pictures I've seen. Don't got a lot of money, but I got you, and baby that's all I need. I want the sky to open wide...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRING ME CLOSE")

MA: Another song I like is "Bring Me Close," by Mindy Gledhill.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRING ME CLOSE")

MINDY GLEDHILL: (Singing) I could float without wings, touch the sky, feel the sunlight kiss my face. Fly through space...

MA: It's really floaty and kind of like a lullaby, but it's really pretty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BRING ME CLOSE")

GLEDHILL: (Singing) ...it would bring me close to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "HERE COMES THE SUN")

MA: A song I grew up listening to would be "Here Comes the Sun," by The Beatles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "HERE COMES THE SUN")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun, and I say it's all right.

MA: When I was doing a project, I actually used that song. It was a project about sunscreen. It was for my science class.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "HERE COMES THE SUN")

BEATLES: (Singing) Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.

MA: Even if I'm in a bad mood, it just makes me really happy when you play it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "HERE COMES THE SUN")

BEATLES: (Singing) I feel that ice is slowly melting.

MARTIN: That was Clara Ma, telling us what's playing in her ear. She won an essay contest when she was 12 years old, and she earned the right to name NASA's Mars rover "Curiosity."

To hear my earlier conversation with Clara, please go to npr.org and click on the program guide at TELL ME MORE.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG "HERE COMES THE SUN")

BEATLES: (Singing) It's all right.

MARTIN: And that's our program for today.

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