Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today selected 25 sound recordings that will be preserved as cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures for generations to come.The voices of former slaves, the sounds of Native American culture, the creative wordplay of “Rapper’s Delight,” Donna Summer’s electric 1977 hit and the only surviving recording of a stage icon are among the sound recordings selected for induction into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.
The selections named to the registry are a diverse array of spoken-word and musical recordings—representing nearly every musical category—spanning the years 1888-1984. They cover a great breadth of sounds and music, ranging from the first commercial recording and the authoritative voice of journalist Edward R. Murrow to the innovative music of Hawaiian Sol Hoopii and the novelty of the all-women’s jazz band International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
Among this year’s selections are Dolly Parton’s autobiographical song, “Coat of Many Colors”; Prince and the Revolution’s “Purple Rain,” the soundtrack from Prince’s 1984 movie debut; Leonard Bernstein’s debut performance with the New York Philharmonic; the 1912 “Come Down Ma Evenin’ Star,” the only surviving recording of Lillian Russell who is considered one of the greatest stars of the American musical stage; the Grateful Dead’s 1977 Barton Hall concert; an album from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”; and the pioneering hip-hop album “Rapper’s Delight.”
Other additions to the registry feature notable performances by Ruth Etting, Bo Diddley, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Love, Parliament, Booker T. & the M.G.’s and the Gregg Smith Singers.
Nominations were gathered through online submissions from the public and from the NRPB, which comprises leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation. The Library is currently accepting nominations for the next registry at the NRPB website, loc.gov/nrpb/