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HOW I GOT TO THE TOP
I was either ten or eleven when I wrote my first song. I don't remember. My mum was struggling financially and emotionally, so I didn't talk a lot. Finally, she told me if I couldn't talk about what was bothering me, I should write about it. So she gave me a notebook, and my poems turned into lyrics.
I grew up in a very hardworking family. But we didn't have lots of money. I was the kid whom friends' parents bought Christmas presents for. One year, though, when I was in the sixth grade, my mom got a bonus at work, and instead of paying off bills, she bought me a CD player and four CDs. I eventually got several college music scholarships but passed on them to move to Los Angeles in 2001. Everyone thought I was crazy to do it, but I moved to California anyway and got work singing backup. A friend and I lived in a house with some other people, and we finally saved enough money to get our own place. The day we moved into our apartment, the building burned down. I stayed in my car for a few days so I could get enough money to drive back to Texas. When I got home, a friend told me about the American Idol audition in Dallas.
Looking back on the show, I find it strange going back and performing on Idol last spring. Everyone was always supportive and nice. But I think they were so nice because no one thought I was going to win. Members of the crew came up to me after the finale and told me they didn't think I could have won. I recently gave a self-esteem workshop for Girl Scouts in Nashville, and I told the girls that I wasn't a role model for my weight. Sometimes I'm thicker when I'm around my family and I'm eating more. Sometimes I'm thinner because I'm on the road and that takes a lot out of me. But I do feel it's important to talk to girls about weight. They see these images, and there's no way they'll ever live up to them.
Everyone says I'm down-to-earth. It would be very hard for me to keep up any sort of celebrity persona. It's just not me. I'm comfortable in my skin. I'm outspoken. I don't know any other way to be.
2. The author explains what made her write songs. Find this extract and read it aloud.
3. Why were all the people nice to her during the show?
4. What did she talk to Girl Scouts in Nashville about?
Halloween is always celebrated on 31 October. On that night, many people will look like frightening creatures such as vampires or ghosts. They do this with the help of special clothing and face paint.
Halloween traditions developed from Celtic beliefs in ancient Britain. The Celts believed that spirits of the dead would return to their homes on October the thirty-first, the day of the autumn feast. They built huge fires to frighten away evil spirits that night.
People from Scotland and Ireland brought these ideas with them when they came to America. Some believed that spirits played tricks on people on the last night of October. Historians say many of the Halloween traditions of today developed from those of ancient times. They say that wearing a mask to hide a person's face is similar to the way ancient villagers covered their faces to make evil spirits go away.
On Halloween night, American children put on masks and other clothing. They go from home to home shouting "Trick or treat"! If the people in the homes do not give them a treat, the children may play a trick on them. Some adults put on costumes and attend Halloween parties. They also decorate their homes. They might clean out the insides of pumpkins and cut funny faces on the surface. Then, they place a burning candle inside. Some hang fake bats, spider webs and other things around the home.
The National Retail Federation is predicting that Americans will spend more on Halloween treats and products this year. The group says about six point nine billion dollars will be spent in all. That is eighteen percent more than last year when Americans spent five point eight billion dollars to celebrate Halloween.
The National Retail Federation also has information about what Americans will be wearing for Halloween this year. It says zombie costumes are tops among women, men and children.
2. The author describes how the ideas of celebrating Halloween came to the USA. Find this extract and read it aloud.
3. What do adults and children do to get ready for Halloween?
4. Why do many people celebrate this holiday nowadays? It’s a very nice tradition - scientists say that wearing a mask to hide a person's face is similar to the way ancient villagers covered their faces to make evil spirits go away. Moreover, it’s always funny.
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