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JFK ‘speaks’ from beyond the grave

FIVE decades after his assassination shocked the world, former US president John F. Kennedy can now be heard delivering the speech in Dallas, Texas that he never made.

According to the Times of London, engineers have used new technology to recreate the voice of the 35th US president so that the speech he was expected to deliver on November 22, 1963, can now be heard.

Mr Kennedy, aged 46, was shot dead by an unknown assassin as his motorcade travelled through Dallas on his way to the Dallas Trade Mart where he was scheduled to give a speech to 2,600 people at a sold-out luncheon.

A copy of the speech he was to deliver was preserved and given to US Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who became president after Mr Kennedy’s death.

Now, the speech has been digitally created as part of the Times’ “JFK: Unsilenced” project. The speech, which was 2,590 words long, took eight weeks to create.

The Times teamed up with CereProc, a Scottish audio technology company, and Irish creative agency Rothco to create the lifelike speech by analysing hundreds of Mr Kennedy’s previous orations.

Sound engineers from CereProc, a text-to-speech technology developer, were able to recreate Mr Kennedy’s voice by analysing more than 831 of his past speeches. The engineers then pulled 116,777 sound bites from those records to create synthesised audio of Mr Kennedy performing the speech.

Particular attention was paid to pitch and energy, in order to capture the authentic cadence of Mr Kennedy’s famous voice and to make the delivery of the speech as lifelike as possible.

Mr Kennedy was travelling in a motorcade with First Lady Jackie Kennedy, Texas governor John Connally and his wife Nellie at 12.30pm on November 22, 1963 when shots rang out in Dealey Plaza.

The president was fatally struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the age of 46.

The text of the — until now — “unspoken” speech seems to have unusual relevence to the state of American politics today, and Kennedy says: “In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason — or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.

“We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’ But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.”

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