Return to Transcripts main page
Interview With Ukrainian Minister Of Strategic Industries Alexander Kamyshin; Interview With "20 Days In Mariupol" Director Mstyslav Chernov; Interview With Musician Jacob Collier; Interview With The Atlantic Staff Writer Michael Powell. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 07, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up.
Senate Republicans block foreign aid funding, leaving Ukraine's survival at stake. I ask its Minister of Strategic Industries what he needs to turn the
tide on the battlefield.
Then Journalist and director Mstyslav Chernov takes us back to one of Putin's first and most brutal assaults on Ukraine, with his eyewitness
documentary, "20 Days in Mariupol."
Next, music for the masses, by the masses, my conversation with the award- winning prodigy, Jacob Collier, on voice layering and cathedrals of sound.
Plus, the state of America's higher education. Journalist Michael Powell joins Michelle Martin to discuss cuts to public universities and long-term
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
America's, up until now, unwavering support for Ukraine is hanging in the balance as Senate Republicans block a move to pass an aid package, bundled
with support for Israel and Taiwan, they've tied the bill to major border security measures.
The White House warns funds for Ukraine's defense could run out soon, and with global attention on the Middle East, Kyiv is struggling to plead its
case. David Cameron, the former British Prime minister turned Foreign Secretary, is in Washington trying to stress the importance of backing
Ukraine for both American and European security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: I just absolutely know that this money will make a huge difference to a Ukrainian campaign that actually is,
in many ways, far more successful than people give them credit for. And the worst thing in the world would be to allow Putin a win in Ukraine. Not just
because that would be bad in itself, but he'd be back for more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: But on the battlefield, the feeling of stalemate is settling in, as Putin waits and watches, betting on his prediction that American support
will wane, betting that time is on his side.
My next guest, Alexander Kamyshin, began the war running Ukraine's railways as a strategic transport network for the military and humanitarian effort.
Now, he's Ukraine's minister for strategic industries, and he's joining me from their embassy in Washington, D.C. Welcome to the program, Alexander
So, you are there as the Senate rejects -- for the first time rejects a major package for you. What difference will that make on the battlefield
ALEXANDER KAMYSHIN, UKRAINIAN MINISTER OF STRATEGIC INDUSTRIES: Hi, Christiane. Happy to be here. And I'm here to work with my team on the,
first, defense industry-based conference, as we call it, Defense One U.S. Edition, which happened today and which started yesterday and happens today
And we are here to work with U.S. defense industry on collaboration with Ukrainian defense industry. Because as we got strong political signal
yesterday from U.S. government, we are working on joint activities, joint projects with U.S. defense industry on the ground in Ukraine.
So, we are here to work out those solutions that could be produced in Ukraine. That's how we can strengthen Ukrainian defense industry base.
Meanwhile, work well with U.S. partners.
AMANPOUR: So, are you disappointed? Because I understand what you're saying that Ukraine is going to have to build its own defense industry if
you can't count on your allies? The U.S., you said you got the message that that support, you know, may or may not continue.
Do you -- are you confident that you'll get support from Europe still? Can it fill the gap on aid, military aid?
KAMYSHIN: Christiane, we are fighting the greatest war generations, and in this war, no single country can withstand against Russia alone. So, that's
why, no matter how much we grow our local defense industry base, for sure we would be still reliant on the aid, on the military aid, which we receive
from U.S. and other partners.
I'm sure that the supplemental would be voted and we will keep receiving the aid. But again, I'm here to promote business to U.S. defense industry
and I'm here to promote joint collaborations we can make with Ukrainian defense industry.
AMANPOUR: How long do you think that will take to actually produce results?
KAMYSHIN: Christiane, defense -- building defense industries always takes years, but we got one of the projects that goes faster, that's what we call
FrankenSAM. That's a collaboration between U.S. defense industry, Ukrainian defense industry, U.S. Army, and Ukrainian Armed Forces, where we take
Soviet type of weapons and western types of missiles and we make them work together.
So, that's how we get fast solution for air defense already now in Ukraine. And this framework of projects is developing. And I'm happy that we got
fast solutions. Meanwhile, we keep working on long-term solutions that will feed Ukraine, the defense industry, and U.S. defense industry strategies in
Because again, building defense industry takes years. Everyone knows that. So, we're working on joint production of ammunitions, mainly 155 rounds in
Ukraine and in neighbor countries. And that's key priority long-term for us.
AMANPOUR: Alexander Kamyshin, did you think at the beginning of this war with so much of the world on your side that it would actually last this
long, that you'd be in your second winter where you're going to be worried that there'll be Russia pulverizing and pounding your energy infrastructure
again, and that you are in, according to your own military chief, a stalemate? Did you predict this?
KAMYSHIN: Christiane, for me it's actually over the third winter in the war. And again, no matter how long it takes, we keep standing and I'm
grateful to U.S. partners for helping us. We stand for all of the 652 days in this great war. And again, when the war started, I was running railways.
So, I've got a task to save people and keep all critical things running on the rails.
Meanwhile, we are dealing with defense industry in Ukraine, and I'm focused, sharp focused on building the defense industrial base in Ukraine
together with U.S. defense industry as a partnership. So again, for me, it's important to build Ukraine as the arsenal of the free world and with
the partnership of U.S. companies.
AMANPOUR: And we know that you're not alone. You're with your defense minister. You're with one of the president's key advisers as well. And
you're meeting with them to try to figure out how you can do this joint enterprise and stand up your own defense industry in the future.
But I guess I want to ask you about what you need most. There's been a very important investigation done by "The Washington Post." You may have seen
it. And some of the things that they have said is, you know, they see that Russia has had enough time to lay a lot of mines. How difficult is it for
Ukraine to punch through these very strong minefields?
KAMYSHIN: Christiane, I'm responsible for the industry only. So, for me, I would say that it's a challenge to build up the industry almost from the
scratch because we got a legacy defense industry coming from Soviet times. But again, it was almost idle for the last few decades. So, we are starting
almost from the scratch, but we already showed that we can be good quite creative and quite hardworking.
So, for instance, in defense tech, in something that flies, goes on the ground, goes on the water, we call it Unmanned Systems Drones. So, in this
defense tech industry, we showed that we could be quite good and we could grow the production. And you see that lessons learned from Ukrainian
defense tech would be useful for U.K. and for other countries as well. So, again, it's complicated, but we find the way through and we'll keep
AMANPOUR: Ukraine was incredibly united at the beginning of the war and you're probably seeing it, we're reading it, there seems to be some
divisions and, you know, friction growing within the various different centers of government. Do you feel that or do you feel that everybody is
still on the same page, united in how to fight this war?
KAMYSHIN: Ukraine is a democratic country, so all voices are heard. And I must say that speaking about defense industry, all voices are united that
Ukrainian defense industry is something we're going to build in years and it's something that's going to be our security guarantee and something that
already works as the locomotive for economic recovery. So, that's why we're working hard with Ukraine -- with Ukrainian and U.S. defense industry
companies to make it grow.
AMANPOUR: And just lastly, you said you believe this supplemental will eventually come through. What do you need? What -- you know, you're the
procurement man, the strategic industry man. What do you need most right now? Is it more air defenses for the winter? Is it to try to speed up
aircraft, fighter aircraft? What do you need right now?
KAMYSHIN: Our priorities are quite simple. First of all, that's air defense. Second is ammunition. And third is sustainment of those systems we
already have. So, that's how we focus with U.S. defense industries and that's what we work out primarily.
AMANPOUR: Alexander Kamyshin, Minister of Strategic Industries, thank you very much for joining us from Washington.
And so, as Washington delays aid, it's vital not to lose sight of the realities of Putin's brutal war and the devastating cost to civilians. The
Pulitzer Prize winning Ukrainian journalist, Mstyslav Chernov, witnessed the start of Russia's full-scale invasion from the first city to be
destroyed, that was Mariupol. He and his small team were the only eyewitnesses to stay for a lengthy time. And here's a clip from his new
film "20 Days in Mariupol."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's good the press is here. Keep filming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is painful to watch, but it must be painful to watch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a bomb attach.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Which building?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Over there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The surgical wing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's OK. It's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Where is you mom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's nowhere to run.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And the documentary is making a big impact at film festivals, it's developing some major Oscar buzz as Ukraine has officially entered it
for the Academy Awards. When Mstyslav Chernov joined me recently here in London, he was adamant that the world cannot afford to look away now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And Mstyslav Chernov joins me now. Welcome to the program.
In some of the voiceover, you say, because the film obviously focuses, like many of, you know, our work on civilians and on the distress caused to
civilians, you say, note to editors, graphic content, this is painful, this is painful to watch, but it must be painful to watch.
MSTYSLAV CHERNOV, DIRECTOR, "20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL": That's the nature. If we don't report everything as it is, if we don't show to people across the
world, to our viewers, to our audience, the reality of war, it becomes acceptable. It is a big danger in not exposing the war for all its
brutality for all its absurd. And if it is polished, if it is sanitized, then it is acceptable, and that shouldn't be the case.
AMANPOUR: Immediately there was an information disinformation. Immediately the Russians said these are actors, this is, you know, Ukrainians shooting
themselves and blowing themselves up. How did you deal with that or did you even know that was happening?
CHERNOV: When I saw this horror that happened in the maternity hospital after the bombing, I knew that there would be such an important story, and
I already knew that it's going to be contested, questioned, and I knew as journalists, we shouldn't try to fight any of that, we just keep working.
That's the only way.
AMANPOUR: And let me put, you know, one of the clips, because it is the clip that essentially went around the world of the woman being carried out
of the maternity hospital. Let's just watch this for a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Careful, wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Bring it higher, higher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, I see you watching, and essentially, you're back there.
CHERNOV: Yes. I don't even have to watch. I remember the moment. Every drop of blood. But I want to say that's exactly why we need documentaries.
First, it adds very, very necessary context of parts of news which are very short form. The context gives viewers, and the audience, the possibility to
make the wrong judgments.
And also, with all the horrifying and very important tragedies that are happening, when we are bombarded by them every day, these important stories
are just lost. So, the only way to preserve a memory of Irina, of Evangelina, of Ilya, Cyril, all the children that have died is to make a
film about it. So, to be sure that the memory is there.
AMANPOUR: Did she survive?
CHERNOV: No. No. And her child also died.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, what do you want to leave the world with, particularly as the world appears to be taking its eye off Ukraine?
CHERNOV: Look, I have a feeling, I have a feeling that when I'm on the ground in Ukraine, we -- I monitor Russian news as well, and I monitor
Ukraine news and the world news, and I frequently come to the U.S. and Europe to speak to the audiences.
One thing I started to notice, first of all, everything is connected. And although very different conflicts, Israel, Gaza, and Russia attacking
Ukraine, there are universal stories, but contextually, they are different and complex, although, again, connected.
But also, I have a feeling that a lot of people in the West don't really realize what -- how Russia sees the West, and this whole war right now.
You see, Russia is building its policy, its ideology right now since its full-scale invasion, as they are at war with the U.S. and with Europe. So,
imagine this. The Russian government, and the majority of Russian people, right now, are at war with Europe and the U.S. They're fighting the
Ukrainians, but the core ideology they have is they are at war. And I feel that that's not really coming through, and it's very dangerous.
AMANPOUR: So, do you find this is resonating with the audiences? What does the audience say to you at festivals, and I know, you know, there is a big
Oscar push as well?
CHERNOV: Surprisingly, I thought Ukraine is going to resonate less in the last several months, as a new big and dramatic conflict in the Middle East
is raging, but actually, especially a story of Mariupol, because of its symbolism, because of its visual and dramatic similarity to what is
happening right now, actually it gains even more meaning now.
So, people realize more and more that the world around them changed, and they have to react. The worst thing that people do now is to be
AMANPOUR: And this certainly, certainly is not a film you could be indifferent about. Mstyslav Chernov, thank you very much, director of "20
Days in Mariupol." It is a really powerful, it is one of the best war films that I've ever seen. So, congratulations.
AMANPOUR: Indeed it is. It's must viewing, in fact.
Next, from making music in his childhood bedroom to now selling out arenas. The five-time Grammy winning musician Jacob Collier became a star with his
virtuoso arrangements, name checked by legends like Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock.
His prodigious and complex style sees him layer sound upon sound, including his own voice, to create cathedrals of music. Just take a listen to one of
his latest singles, "WELLLL."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB COLLIER, MUSICIAN: Burning, crashing, trampoline, the edge of the sun. I think I fell in love with lightning bolt, I'm ready to run into you.
I'm screaming, I'm screaming, I think I'm reading you well. Believing, believing, I think I'm reading you well.
AMANPOUR: Now, this kind of one-man band is set to release the fourth and final installment of his Djesse albums. I've been speaking to him about
making the whole world his instrument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Jacob Collier, welcome to the program.
COLLIER: Thanks for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, tell me what you think it was, or why did they tell you that they noticed you? And they are the great, you know, musical producers,
Quincy Jones, and then of course the great musician, Herbie Hancock. What was it about you?
COLLIER: Oh, gosh, it's a hard question for me to answer, as me. I think when I came into the world -- my ambitions were not to be a huge star, not
to be a really famous musician. I just wanted to make the most beautiful work I could possibly imagine. And somehow, I think that those intentions
shone through the work and refreshed someone like Quincy Jones.
I mean, Quincy has seen everybody across the face of the earth in many different walks of life and, I don't know, I feel extremely lucky that
somehow he saw a spark in me and thought this person could do some interesting things.
AMANPOUR: And not just interesting, very, very different. So, your latest album is called Djesse. And it's a --
AMANPOUR: I mean, I'm probably pronouncing it wrong, but it's a spin --
COLLIER: That's correct.
AMANPOUR: -- on your initials, J.C.
COLLIER: Yes. So, when I was a kid, my friends used to call me J.C. It's like my nickname. And yes, I've, I've seeked -- or I've sought to create
this massive quadruple album.
So, Djesse is a four-album project, volume one, volume two, volume three have all come out. And this is the era of volume four, which is a really
long-awaited era for me personally. It's really the culmination of many, many things I've been working towards and care about and it's a very, very
richly collaborative album. It's a global album and I'm really excited.
AMANPOUR: One of the songs, you have Stormzy on it, you have Shawn Mendes.
AMANPOUR: Yes. That's called "Witness Me."
COLLIER: That's correct.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The thing that I think is really, for me anyway, fascinating is that this one you say is about the human voice. The others have been R&B,
jazz, folk, et cetera. This is about the human voice. And that's your thing, right? That's how you started.
COLLIER: I've been reflecting a lot on how I began my journey as a musician, and the first instrument I ever really played was my voice. And
the thing about the voice is everybody has one and everyone is different. And that's beautiful to me. That's so important.
And I started my journey as a musician, recording sort of acapella, heavily layered acapella renditions of songs I loved. And that concept of, you
know, many voices at once really defined my fascination in the early days. And then more recently, I've just become obsessed with this idea, but on a
So, I've been touring around the world playing concerts and collaborating with all sorts of kinds of people. And the thing that I find in all
situations that really hits the spot for me and really feels like the centerpiece of what this album is about and what -- maybe what I'm here to
do at this moment in time is to really give people a voice, you know, lift up voices, unify voices. And that just feels like a powerful feeling and
most -- it's the most goosebumps I've ever experienced.
AMANPOUR: So, to be fair every singer uses their voice.
AMANPOUR: But you do yours in a very, very different way. I'm going to play a little clip from "Isn't She Lovely," which is one you did very early
which kind of demonstrates --
COLLIER: Sure, sure.
AMANPOUR: -- what you mean
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLIER: Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? Isn't she precious? Less than one minute old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I see you rocking to it.
COLLIER: I haven't heard that for years.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And you're so young. How old were you there?
COLLIER: I was 17, 18 when I made that video.
AMANPOUR: 17. OK.
COLLIER: So, that was very, very, very early days. But what I was interested in was how can my voice be many different voices, you know? How
can I be the bass singer? How can I be the top? You know, and tell a story that feels compelling, authentic.
I've always been so interested in chords, but the magic that happens when you put multiple notes together, you know, in music, we call this harmony,
you know, one of the main principles of music. And I think harmony is not just a musical concept, it's a human concept.
Harmony is what happens when different forces, different energies come together and create like a sort of synergy between themselves. So, you can
say the chord of D major seven, you know, or G dominant seven, these chords have a sensation of feeling about them, but when they exist in the world,
in people and for people, I think they can really remind us why we're here as people.
AMANPOUR: And can you give me an example of that?
COLLIER: Yes. Well, so, I mean, there are so many levels to understanding chords and harmonies and melodies. You can think of music has been created
from three basic principles. There's the principle of rhythm, which is time, decorating time in the body. There's the concept of melody, which is
essentially your voice and how you use it, the line you draw. And then, there's the concept of harmony, which is what happens when those elements
combine and they create chords, passages, sensations.
And it's almost like you're a painter when you're a harmonist. You get to decide, how do I want this melody to feel? So, for example, if I sing like
a C, that's a C. That note begins -- that note belongs in, say, the chord of F, right? Those three notes are F major. But it also is invited to the
court of A flat, so different flavor.
So, it's hard to explain it just with one voice. But the idea is one note can exist in so many different kinds of chords. And what an amazing lesson
to learn as a human, as a musician, when you go about this, you say this one note can be this to this chord, can be completely this other thing to
this other chord. And the amazing thing about music is that -- it's a language everybody can understand.
AMANPOUR: Yes, but it is a language everybody can at least appreciate. Actually, I'm just looking down and I see you wearing Crocs. You've got a
pair of yellow Crocs on.
COLLIER: Oh, yes. Look at this.
AMANPOUR: OK. Yellow. Those are the Ukrainian flag. I don't know whether you intend to put them right up. Then everybody can see it. There you go.
Yellow. OK. But you -- one of your sessions, and I think you call it logic sessions, the sort of the layer upon layer upon layer upon layer, you show
a spectrogram of a croc.
AMANPOUR: And that spectrogram produces a sound.
COLLIER: Yes. It's a human croc.
AMANPOUR: So, explain that. The croc, the sound, the layers.
COLLIER: I've always been just interested in how far you can stretch certain concepts. One of the things that -- one of the tools you use as a
musician when you're sculpting music, creating music is what's called a spectrogram. It's like a graph.
So, you have high frequencies at the top, and then low frequencies at the bottom, and every sound in your song exists on this graph. So, if I go,
whoo, then it will go -- like this, right?
COLLIER: And all the overtones as well. And so, I had this idea, silly idea, but it's a fun idea, of drawing a picture in a spectrogram of a
recognizable object and seeing how it sounded.
So, I basically put this on my computer screen, and I -- and then I played it to see how it would look. I found some kind of converter where I put the
image in, and out came this crazy sound. And I thought, I kind of like that, I'm going to put it in my song.
AMANPOUR: See, you know, that's like double Dutch for me, but I'm sure there are a lot of people who understand. I appreciate the finished product
AMANPOUR: -- but it's really difficult to understand it for the layperson.
COLLIER: Yes, yes. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Are you self-taught?
COLLIER: I would say fundamentally, yes. I had many teachers along the way. Mostly my heroes were my teachers. People I listened to. My mother was
an incredible, incredible teacher to me.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about your mother because she was a musician -- is a musician.
COLLIER: Yes, yes. She's a phenomenal force of nature. She's a conductor, a violinist, and one of the most gifted teachers I've ever seen. Growing up
in the world, you know, as any child does, you know, you look up at the world and you see these people, these elders, and you think, well, this is
how life can be.
And my first musical memories were of my mother conducting an orchestra, you know, so she would go like this, and then the music would start, I
think that is like, it's like casting a spell, you know, I think, wow, that's what music can do. It's not just about always at the right or the
wrong notes, that doesn't matter, it's about how does it feel, and are you bringing yourself to it, you know.
And just the -- her ability to get magic out of people is a phenomenal gift, and it's something I'm so grateful for having been in the light of
for so long.
AMANPOUR: So, you take that sort of orchestral conducting phenomenon, and you conduct, you call them choirs, but they're actually your audience, it's
really in various concerts. There's one that we have, some video and sound of, which I'm going to play. Were you in Bangalore? You were in India?
COLLIER: Oh, that was just last week. I was in Bangalore.
AMANPOUR: Yes. OK.
COLLIER: Yes, yes. OK. So, it's cute. Let's have a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, that Fulsome sound is the audience.
COLLIER: Yes. That's all you're hearing is just two and a half thousand people. And the magic --
AMANPOUR: How do they know the tune?
COLLIER: This is the magic of it. So, I'm essentially -- well, I'm pointing up and down to different sections and using my eyes and being
clear, having created like a harmonic center. So, I basically say, OK, we're here. I don't say this with words. I say -- I play. I play. And so,
people understand where the chords are.
It sounds complex in words. It's actually very simple. It's like, we're in this key. And then I move sections of the audience up and down, and they
know where to go. Because music is inherent, music is understood internally in ways that we don't really understand.
A lot of the time when you learn music, you think you have to learn from books or from stuffy classrooms or textbooks or things like this, but
actually music is just in the world all the time. Everybody understands major and minor, everybody understands big and small, everybody understands
yes and no, and it's these simple gestures that create sounds like that.
And I've traveled to every corner of the world, whether it's to India, China, Australia, New Zealand, South America, all over America, Europe, and
even Africa, and the magical thing about that is that it always works.
AMANPOUR: And what do you get back from it? It's clear what they do.
COLLIER: Oh, it's my favorite feeling in the world because I'm both big and also very small at the same time, because I'm not singing, I'm only
enabling other people's voices. And if I really think about my purpose and my presence in the world at this moment for me, that feels like the best
job I could be doing is to say, hey, here's a space for you to sing and be your biggest and most uncontainable self. And I'm here as a conduit, just
to give you that permission to try.
AMANPOUR: We're all in a horrible situation right now. I think everybody's traumatized by what's happening in the world. Do you feel this is -- has a
bridge building? I don't know, is there something healing or something, you know, metaphysical that you can get even in the worst and worst of times?
COLLIER: I think it's a question many of us are asking at the moment. You know, all of us who absorb the world in our various ways, I think it's easy
for us to feel overwhelmed because there are a lot of problems that don't have clear solutions.
And in situations like that, I think artists, musicians and creators, though it may seem trite, they come into their own because they are the
master alchemists at transforming any amount of hardship and struggle questions on and also joy and connection and hope and all this stuff,
alchemizing all that into something that means something and something that allows people a space to feel. And, you know, it's easy to look around and
think, gosh, what could I possibly do to help?
And then you remember that if you just align with who you are, and you see the world as you see the world, and you try to learn as much as you can
from all perspectives about what's going on right now, and you just tell the truth from your perspective, it's all that anybody could ever do.
And I think music, as I said before, it's just one of the most beautiful languages at saying -- well, even beyond saying showing how connective the
world can be when we realize we're all the same and we realize that we have so much in common and so much to celebrate.
AMANPOUR: I was also interested in reading you said how much of an influence your mother was, but also your siblings. I think sisters, right?
So, you essentially grew up in an all-female environment.
COLLIER: Yes. I'm very proud of that. And I think that it's given me a huge amount of access to particular ways of seeing the world, softer ways,
more open ways perhaps. I think that my family are incredibly strong and courageous and brilliant people.
And, yes, I think it's an astounding privilege to grow up in a world through the eyes of -- where you've seen the world through the eyes of
women. And I was pretty shocked and surprised when I entered the music industry as a novice, not really thinking about myself as having a career,
but as someone who wanted to make things, thinking, well, don't see many women in charge. You know, are there women producing music? Are there women
creating, you know, the gates, the rich people are walking? And I think there's a lot of work to be done there.
But one thing I've learned from just collaborating with so many extraordinary women in the last few years is just how vital those vantage
points can be in this world. And it makes me feel, in a sense, quite at home because it's how I felt as a kid. It's like I can get on this
wavelength, you know, where we're looking with open eyes and open hearts at how each of us and all of us can learn together and -- as a team, you know.
AMANPOUR: Any women you're going to be collaborating with like, for instance, on Djesse, you've got, as I mentioned many times, Stormzy and the
COLLIER: Yes. A terrific number. I can't disclose this information just yet because I want to save the surprise. But, yes. I've been very inspired
and thrilled to collaborate with many, many women in this album and in and around the campaign. And yes, it's a brilliant time to be a creative person
in many ways, even though it's confusing and strange.
It's a time where I'm looking around the world and seeing many walls and barriers being broken down, straight up ignored, just like, well, we're
just going to make the thing that feels good. We're going to go and be courageous. And I'm really encouraged at the fearlessness of my peers, old
and young, and just looking around at the world and seeing the kinds of things that are possible with the amount of connectivity that is -- that as
-- at our fingertips.
But I do think all these forces can be used to divide as much as they can be used to unite. And I will just continue to do everything in my power to
use my forces for good, you know.
AMANPOUR: And just finally, after Djesse Vol. 4, what's next?
COLLIER: Oh gosh, I haven't even thought that far ahead. It's been so many years in the making. I'm really excited to do more performing, do more
touring. I'll be touring next year and sort of spreading all these -- the seeds of this album into the world.
And I have so many big and wild ideas for the next few years, but I think in some ways, my greatest challenge will just be to be present in the world
and to keep open in the world. It's a hard thing to stay open in the world.
COLLIER: There are so many things that shut us down. So, many forces at play in all walks of life, no matter who you are. So, I think for me, I'll
feel like I've really done it. I've really achieved it. If I can just stay open for as long as I possibly can and keep on giving in the ways that I
AMANPOUR: Well, Jacob Collier, thank you very much indeed.
COLLIER: Thanks. Thanks a lot.
AMANPOUR: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Really a whole new vision and take on the world through the eyes of Jacob Collier and his huge talent.
Now, it's all about education, of course, as well, and higher education has become a flashpoint in the American culture wars, and a prime target for
government downsizers. So, it was no surprise when West Virginia University announced plans to slash majors and cut courses in order to shrink its
budget. But what does that actually mean for the students who are seeking a reasonably priced education?
"Atlantic" Magazine writer Michael Powell joins Michel Martin to discuss his latest article, "What Happens When a Poor State Cuts its Public
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Michael Powell, thanks so much for talking with us.
MICHAEL POWELL, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Oh, my pleasure.
MARTIN: So, you decided to take a deeper look at the big cuts implemented at West Virginia University. Now, cuts to language programs, math programs,
a bunch of degree granting programs. What made you take a look at it?
POWELL: I was struck when it came out that -- I mean, of course, like everybody, by the breadth and depth of the cuts.
But also, that -- you know, I mean, I'm familiar enough with West Virginia to know. I mean, this is a kind of a working-class state that's had, you
know, all sorts of, problems. I mean, you know, diabetes, drug use, rapidly aging population, loss of youth. And this felt, like a -- you know, I mean,
I guess in that way, felt like a deep blow and something worth really looking at. And also, because you're hearing increasingly of both public
and private colleges that are making this sort of very deep cuts.
And I guess lastly, I mean, because it is -- there are so many kind of first generation and working-class students at this place, you know, I
thought it did raise interesting questions of equity. You know, what happens when a school that serves the kind of larger sweep of America or of
West Virginia makes this sort of cuts, what happens to opportunities?
MARTIN: So, the thing that got a lot of people's attention is the cuts to the language programs. They're really shrinking the modern language
department to the point where most people won't be able to get an advanced degree in those languages is -- that's kind of the reality of it. But what
are some of the other cuts that perhaps didn't get as much attention initially?
POWELL: I mean, there was public health, there was graduate programs in math, there are graduate programs in conservation management, education,
administration English took some cuts.
One of the things that I was kind of struck by is they literally could not offer Shakespeare classes this spring -- either -- in either the fall of
the spring semester because they were too badly stretched. So, I mean, these cuts, you know, kind of extended over a pretty broad range of areas.
MARTIN: So, you actually had a chance to interview the president of West Virginia University, E. Gordon Gee. He talked about this back in 2020. He
kind of laid out his goal here. And I do want to mention that that he has a pretty extensive background in university administration. I mean, he's led,
you know, marquee institutions like Ohio State, Brown. He's been around. So, what is it that he said was wrong that this strategy is designed to
POWELL: His argument is that there is this demographic cliff that universities are approaching in the next couple of years, that is where you
see declining birth rate and fewer kids of college age. So, you're going to see fewer and fewer of them applying to universities and that this is going
to lead to a real, his favorite word is, existential crisis for higher education.
He also points to polls both nationally and in -- within West Virginia that show declining confidence by the citizenry in large in the need for higher
education. You know, where it used to be in this, say, mid 60, 70 percent. Now, I think he points to polls and show it as low as like 25, 30 percent.
And he says, look, you know, the combination of these things require are, if you will, a tsunami that's approaching. We need to get ready for that.
And therefore, that we need to both cut and at the same time, we need to kind of serve, as he loves to talk about his students and families as
customers, that we have to kind of customize the education for them.
So, we don't want to have as many required courses. We want to be able to let them take other courses. We want more -- and this is where it gets a
little contradictory at the same time -- kind of targeted on health, business, engineering, things that will, he says, serve the economy of West
MARTIN: You know, we've heard lots of criticisms of universities in recent years that they're too expensive. That they don't serve the economy's
needs. That they are elitist. You know, that they basically are -- they're doing too much. Are Mr. Gee -- is President Gee's objections that there's a
market mismatch, that students are coming out unprepared for the opportunities that exist and that that's a problem, or is it primarily
economic, that the state can't afford it or is it primarily ideological, that he doesn't like what the kids are teaching or coming out and thinking?
POWELL: He certainly does not frame it in ideological terms. He argues a bit of a mismatch. He's talked a lot about the need to keep these students
in state. And, you know -- and to match them up better with jobs in the state.
It gets a little confusing because at some point, I mean, West Virginia's economy is in a bad way. It lacks, you know, basic -- I mean, there's a
great shortage of math teachers, which makes it rather ironic that they're cutting their math program back. There is -- you know, there's a shortage
of biology teachers. I mean, there's shortages kind of across the board, and it seems to me within a place like West Virginia, certainly this is
something that critics talk about is it's great to try as much as one can to keep students in state, but at some level if you're, again, serving the
needs of those kids, you're going to allow their aspirations to take them where they might.
And as one of the young women that I was talking to, who's, you know, looking -- wants to work for the foreign service. And she took a lot of
language -- you know, a lot of language study, a lot of foreign study, you know, maybe she does leave, maybe she comes back 20 years, 30 years from
now and teaches at, you know, WVU.
I guess what I was struck by looking at is it's not so linear, right? It's not like, well, you know, if we come up with a way to keep this young
person here now at the age of 21, they'll be here when they're 50, or if they go away when they're 21, they won't come back in 15 or 20 years if
there are the opportunities there.
MARTIN: So, obviously, you're skeptical of his approach, but let's sort of take it at face value. He says that the -- this is a public university. It
depends on public dollars, and it just needs to be in better alignment with the needs of the state and to be a better steward of the state's resources.
I mean, you point out in your piece that, you know, most state legislatures are spending less per student than a decade ago. Throughout higher
education, total student enrollment is declining. So, doesn't he have a point there?
POWELL: Well, he might. I mean, the thing is that actually state universities, flagship universities in particular, are actually better
position than a lot of privates. I mean, if you wanted to -- if I did the same piece on a good small little private university in West Virginia or
anywhere else, they might well be facing kind of existential problems, right? They don't have the endowments of an Ivy League school or a Stanford
or something like that. Their tuition runs 65, 000, 75,000 a year. You know, there you've got a real problem.
West Virginia University, you can still go soup to nuts for about 22,000 a year. It's one of the lowest, and that is that includes room and board. So,
that's one of the lower price tags. In fact, perhaps the very lowest for a state university in the country. One could counter that actually a state
university like West Virginia, like Kentucky, which is a neighbor next door, like Ohio, which is a neighbor next door, where they've seen
increasing enrollment, that those places are sort of uniquely well positioned to survive a -- you know, a demographic and enrollment decline
MARTIN: Some of the programs that are being cut would seem to be ones that the state actually does need. I mean, you've pointed out that he made deep
cuts to the math department, but there's a shortage of math teachers in the state, as there is really in most places around the country. So, that's one
But then also in educational administration. I mean, education is another thing that the state really needs. But the other thing that you pointed out
is this little quirky program in puppetry, which -- that you, you know, took pains to highlight and you said that they've had 100 percent
postgraduate employment going back for years and that some of these -- the graduates go on to work at, you know, major companies like entertainment
and Disney and all these other sorts of places.
So, one of the sources of skepticism that I detected from your piece is that you thought, well, Gee, if you really want to match sort of the need
with the educational experience that would seem to be -- some of that would be counterintuitive. Presumably you put that question to President Gee.
What did he say?
POWELL: He keeps saying that, look, these are the sort of tough choices we have to make. I kept looking for it to hold together. So, wait a minute.
You know, we're cutting. We're trying to aim at, for instance, meeting the needs of West Virginia. Fine. I mean, it's an economically, you know, kind
of storm-tossed state. It needs help.
But again, so you're -- you want to increase your engineering program that he wants to, wants to put money into that. He wants to -- he's putting big
money into a neuroscience center. But at the same time, he's cutting his math graduate program.
You know, and there's an interplay between those. And if you're a top neuroscience student, and there's a lot of competition, you know, from
schools that are in, you know, major cities and that sort of thing, it seems to me paradoxical that you would cut programs that are, if you will,
kind of cousin or adjacent programs. And I didn't really get a good answer for from him on that.
MARTIN: Talk about sort of your skepticism for a bit. What do you really think is going on here? Like you kind of -- this is -- there's a -- there's
the subtext to this. And what do you think the subtext is? Is it that That he -- there's sort of a suspicion that, you know, this is not for you, that
you're -- you know, as a -- if you grow up in West Virginia, if you go to school there, then you're not supposed to have nice things? I mean, what's
-- you know, I mean, what's the subtext here? Yes.
POWELL: I think that is the implicit question there, is, well, what are we saying? So, if you're at the -- if you're born in Los Angeles or San
Francisco, and you have -- you can access the University of California system, which is, you know, a pretty magnificent educational edifice, I
mean, it has its problems, but it's a -- you know, it offers a great buffet of courses and schools to go to.
And if you're from West Virginia, you're going to have a greatly telescoped sort of set of choices. And I do think that that raises real questions. I
mean, this is public -- you know, the public university system, and I'm myself a product of it, is -- you know, is I think is of our one of our
glories and it's not been so class stratified, right, where -- I mean, the notion is that if you go to a state university, you can get -- you can feel
your brain come a fire.
And I think that it's worth worrying when a state university system, as President Gee is, you know, has done and here, has decided to kind of,
well, pull in its fangs. And I guess that was one of the things that's striking. You know, West Virginia right now is a very large budget surplus.
You know, why not put some of that -- you know, some of that energy into getting a little bit more money so that you get -- you know, from the state
legislature, take your case to the people and try to sell them on what is a great American ideal, which is the land grant university, a place where you
don't have to be rich or upper middle class to get a -- you know, to really have a chance to getting a fine education.
And a fine education in a way of, you know -- and again, I was struck in talking to a number of these first-generation students, that, you know,
they came there thinking, oh, I'm going to major in something practical. You know, I'm going to be a business or this or that. And like, all of a
sudden, they got there and like, they realize, oh, linguistics, you know, that that rocks my world.
Well, it so happens linguistics also is very much in demand in A.I. right now. It seems to me in a very moving way kind of the best opportunities
that a public education can offer middle and working-class kids.
MARTIN: So, presumably you put that question to the president and like, what do you think it's really about?
POWELL: He's long written about this demographic cliff. I think he sees himself as a visionary. I know he sees himself as a visionary. And that
when all of these other state universities are having problems, West Virginia University after he will have left, because he's going to leave in
the next year or two, he says, will be positioned to survive in a very kind of practical and utilitarian way.
Maybe the problem is, I mean, when I looked at the University of Kentucky, when I looked at the University of Arkansas, places with pretty similar
demographic profiles to that of West Virginia, their enrollment is soaring. I mean, they're adding classes. They're adding professors.
So, if nothing else, I guess he's made a petri dish of West Virginia University, in that we're going to see if -- you know, if this works. You
know, I think in the short run, I think it leaves students with some hollowed out programs.
MARTIN: Does this go beyond West Virginia University? Do you think there's a bigger issue out here that we should be thinking about that West Virginia
University just exemplifies as opposed to is kind of the whole story? Is there a bigger story out here that we should be thinking about?
POWELL: Yes, absolutely. Look, I mean, I think there's been of, obviously, incoming fire directed at universities in the last 10 or 15 years, both
from left and right, actually. And, you know -- and I think those are -- I mean, that is the, if you will, sort of the overarching, you know, umbrella
under which some of this -- some of what's going on in West Virginia is going forward with.
And you are seeing -- I don't want to make it entirely about West Virginia. I mean, you have University -- State University of New York, Potsdam in far
northern New York that's made some, you know, very, very deep cuts and programs, cut out all sorts of what would have been thought of as essential
majors. You've seen this in North Dakota. You've seen it in Missouri.
So, you have a real challenge there. And you also have a challenge, I think, in getting -- as alluded to you, you have a challenge in getting
parents and citizens of the of these states to understand the value of a college education. And I guess that's what I'm struck by -- one of the
things I'm struck by in West Virginia is that from the president, to the governor, to the head of the legislatures, to the provost, everyone's just
sort of taking it -- you know, the starting point is -- we've lost the confidence of people. We're not going to get that. Enrollment's going to
decline. And therefore, we need to kind of manage decline.
We need to manage decline with a few sharp programs there. And that seems to me to represent, both in West Virginia and in some of these other
states, a real pressing issue.
MARTIN: Michael Powell. Thanks so much for talking with us.
POWELL: Thanks very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And so often humanities and the arts are the victims of these slashing cuts. Arts and humanities are not luxuries, they're vital,
especially as we learn, finally tonight, in times marred by division and hate. When today, the world paid tribute to someone who dedicated his life
to advocating for love, humanity, and the transformational power of words.
The British Caribbean poet, musician, and actor, Benjamin Zephaniah, has died at 65 after suffering from a brain tumor. He was the son of Windrush
immigrants. He was known for his fearless campaigning and radical poetry.
Zephaniah left school in Birmingham, unable to read or write, but later became a titan of British literature. And we want to leave you tonight with
an extract from one of his beloved poems. It goes like this. People need people to walk to, to talk to, to cry and rely on. People will always need
people. To love and to miss. To hug and to kiss. It's useful to have other people to whom to moan if you're all alone. It's so hard to share when no
one is there. There's not much to do when there's no one but you. People will always need people.
And that could not be more important as a message than today.
And a quick programming note, on Saturday, you can watch "THE AMANPOUR HOUR" from 11:00 a.m. on America's East Coast and 5:00 p.m. in Central
Europe. And we'll bring context, conversation and analysis of our world with newsmakers, cultural icons and the best of CNN in the field. I'm also
taking your questions about events that shape our future. So, scan the QR code on your screen or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. "THE AMANPOUR HOUR"
airs Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central Europe, only here on CNN.
That's it for now. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.