Note: this is a national list and many of the items listed are housed in collections across the country. The Library of Congress does not currently hold copies of all the recordings listed.
Recordings are listed by year of release:
A trio of cylinders selected by Edison contemporaries to represent the birth of commercial sound recording--as an industry, as a practical technology, and as a means to preserve music and spoken word. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Emile Berliner, the inventor of the microphone and founder of the first disc record company, lived and worked in Washington, D.C. A contemporary of Thomas Edison, Berliner believed that the wax cylinder developed by Edison and his partners was too soft and fragile for making a permanent recording. He developed the first process for mass-production of disc recordings. These are two of his early recordings. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Fewkes's cylinder recordings, made in Calais, Maine, are considered to be the first ethnographic recordings made "in the field," as well as the first recordings of Native American music. Selected for the 2002 registry.
The first recording of America's favorite march. "The Stars and Stripes Forever!," John Philip Sousa's most famous march, was recorded by the company of the inventor of the 78-rpm gramophone disc, Emile Berliner. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Victor Herbert's 1898 operetta, The Fortune Teller, was the composer's first popular success for the stage. The Berliner Gramophone Company captured bass Eugene Cowles's performance of one of the operetta's hit songs, "Gypsy Love Song," on what was one of the very first "original cast recordings." Selected for the 2004 registry.
During the era of ragtime music's greatest popularity, the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the syncopated music was typically recorded by bands, orchestras, or small ensembles, or accordion, xylophone, or banjo soloists. Vess Ossman, called "The Banjo King," was the one of the most prolific recording artists of that time. His "Honolulu Cake Walk" is a prime example of recorded ragtime banjo. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Scott Joplin is regarded as the pre-eminent composer of ragtime compositions. Joplin himself performed some of these rags for piano roll sales. These rolls represent the way rags were originally listened to and enjoyed on home player pianos. They are outstanding examples of a less-familiar, nearly-obsolete, sound recording format. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This vaudeville and musical theater duo, two of the first African American recording artists, recorded many sides for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901. As effective as the comic duo are on record, George Walker disliked recording and made only one other recording. Bert Williams, however, had a very successful recording career, which included two versions of his signature song, "Nobody," before his death in 1922. The Victor discs are rare recordings. Two of them, "The Fortune Telling Man " (Victor 1083) and "The Ghost of a Coon" (Victor 998), are missing from any known collection. Selected for the 2003 registry.
In the early 1900s, Lionel Mapleson set up a phonograph in the New York City Metropolitan Opera House to record excerpts of 'live' performances there. These cylinders preserve a special window on the spontaneous artistry of this era and are the only known extant recordings of some performers, including Jean de Reszke. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Representative of the Columbia Grand Opera Series. Columbia Records' 1903 "celebrity" series of discs featured seven Metropolitan Opera stars who were considered some of the most significant singers of the period. Perhaps of great historical significance within the series are the three recordings made by bass Edouard de Reszke. They are his only known published recordings, made when he was approaching the end of his performing career. Other performers included in the series are Giuseppe Campanari, baritone; Marcella Sembrich, soprano; Suzanne Adams, soprano; Ernestine Schumann-Heink, contralto; Antonio Scotti, baritone; and Charles Gilbert, baritone. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Cal Stewart was among the most prolific and popular recording artists of the first 20 years of commercial recording. His “Uncle Josh” monologues offer humorous commentary on American life at the turn of the 20th century, reflecting major themes and fashions of the time. His “rural comedy” describes life in the imaginary New England village of Pumpkin Center, painting humorous pictures of Uncle Josh’s encounters with new technologies, and comic contrasts between agrarian and urban life in America. Stewart’s influence can be heard in the comedy of Will Rogers, in Fred Allen’s character, Titus Moody, and in Garrison Keillor’s stories about Lake Wobegon. “Uncle Josh and the Insurance Company” is especially notable as the first recording of the humorous folk tale and urban legend “Barrel of Bricks.” Selected for the 2006 registry.
In 1906, Booker T. Washington recreated his controversial 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech in which he promotes inter-racial cooperation, as well as African-American self-reliance. This address drew criticism from other black leaders who interpreted it as giving in to segregation. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This extraordinarily popular comic baseball recitation (poem) is read by the vaudevillian, DeWolf Hopper. Hopper reportedly recited this poem over 10,000 times in performance. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Billy Murray (1877-1954) was one of the most popular recording artists in the U.S. in the acoustic recording era. His distinct tenor voice was featured on hundreds of records issued by Victor, Columbia, Edison, and other labels. Some of Murray's best-loved and most popular recordings were of George M. Cohan's songs. "You're a Grand Old Rag" was the original title of this recording and Cohan's song, "You're a Grand Old Flag." Despite the song's clear patriotic message, "rag" was considered by many to be an undignified and inappropriate way to refer to the American flag. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Tenor Enrico Caruso was probably the most popular recording artist of his time. His recording of this signature aria by Leoncavallo was a best-selling recording. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Frances Densmore's Chippewa recordings, a three-hundred cylinder sub-set of the ethnomusicologist's thirty-year collecting effort, are some of the earliest recordings she made. Her collections, housed at the Library of Congress, document Native American traditions and performances, many of which have since been lost within native communities. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The Fisk Jubilee Singers established the black spiritual in the history of American music. They were also the first to introduce these songs to white audiences through concert tours and recordings. "Swing Low" is their first commercial recording. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Vaudeville singer and comedienne Sophie Tucker first recorded her signature song for the Edison company on cylinder. It was the beginning of a recordings career that extended nearly 50 years. The Sheldon Brooks song was an ideal vehicle for the earthy star known as "the Last of the Red-Hot Mamas." Selected for the 2004 registry.
These Trinidadian instrumental musicians were recorded in New York City during a tour in 1912. Lovey's String Band exemplifies a pre-jazz "hot" style common in the Caribbean at that time. Selected for the 2002 registry.
James Reese Europe was the first black bandleader to record in the United States and was the personal conductor for the immensely popular dancing team of the 1910's, Irene and Vernon Castle. Reese's recordings were important stepping-stones in the development of jazz. They exhibit a frenetic quality, with more looseness and greater syncopation than heard in other dance bands of the era. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Tenor John McCormack’s recording of “Il mio tesoro” from “Don Giovanni” is considered a model of Mozart performance. His rich voice, seamless phrasing and superb technical skill contribute to making this reading the standard by which other performances of this aria have been measured. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Inextricably associated in popular imagination with World War I, Nora Bayes' recording introduced George M. Cohan's song and became an international hit. Cohan had specifically requested that Bayes be the first singer to release his composition. A former member of the "Ziegfeld Follies," an extremely popular vaudevillian and a Broadway star, she recorded a number of other songs to boost morale during the war and performed extensively for the soldiers. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Representative of the Hampton Quartet Collection at Hampton University. Natalie Burlin (1875-1921), a pioneer in the study of American minority cultures, was one of the leading collectors and transcribers of indigenous music of Africa and the United States. Beginning around 1903, she worked to document and preserve Native American culture and in 1910, extended her work to carry out important studies of African-American and African culture. Burlin published four volumes of transcriptions taken from performances by students at Virginia's Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1918-1919. Recordings by the Hampton Quartette made on wax cylinders during the 1880s, including this recording of "Listen to the Lambs," were probably the basis of some of her published transcriptions. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The Bubble Books, published by Harper Columbia between 1917 and 1922, was the first series of books and records published together especially for children. Authors were Ralph Mayhew and Burges Johnson, while Rhoda Chase provided the beautiful, full-color line drawings. Each book contained three 5 1/2-inch discs to accompany the three nursery rhymes printed in the books. The singer is not listed on the discs, but is thought to be Henry Burr. Millions of the books were sold to delighted children in the U.S. and abroad. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The Original Dixieland Jazz Band was the first jazz band to make a commercial recording. This all-white New Orleans-style group from Chicago featured cornetist Nick LaRocca. While not the best ensemble of its day, the first recordings of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band initiated a craze for the new art form, jazz. Selected for the 2002 registry.
These cylinders comprise some of the earliest field recordings of African American music. They were recorded on St. Helena Island, SC, in the 1920s. They are held primarily at the Southern Folklife Collection of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with smaller numbers in the collections of the Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture and the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music. Selected for the 2003 registry.
With her recording of "Crazy Blues," Mamie Smith became the first black vocalist to make a commercial vaudeville blues record. The recording was a surprise hit, reputedly selling more than 250,000 copies. It revealed to record companies a previously neglected market for records, African-American buyers. Subsequently, thousands of recordings were made of black jazz and blues artists, invigorating the record business and enabling the documentation and preservation of one of the richest eras of musical creativity in the United States. Selected for the 2005 registry.
George Gershwin and Irving Caesar's song, "Swanee," was interpolated into the show, Sinbad, for Al Jolson. The song became Gershwin's first hit and remained associated with Al Jolson throughout his career. This recording captures the energy of Gershwin's song and Jolson's unique ability to "put over" a song with exuberance. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Performed by Fanny Brice in the "Ziegfeld Follies of 1921," "My Man" and "Second Hand Rose" were recorded by Victor Records the same year and issued together on a double-faced 78-rpm disc. Known for her comedic songs in Yiddish and other dialects, Brice was in the midst of marital woes when she recorded "My Man." Audiences, connecting strongly with her passionate performance, concluded she was singing about herself. "Second Hand Rose" was a follow-up to a previous hit song, "Rose of Washington Square," and was a rare instance of the sequel excelling its predecessor. Selected for the 2005 registry.
William Jennings Bryan's "Cross of Gold" speech is one of the best-known political addresses in American history. The speech was originally delivered at the 1896 Democratic convention. In it, the "Great Commoner," as the populist candidate was called, advocated the replacement of the gold standard by silver. The speech is said to have won Bryan the Democratic nomination for president. He was the Democratic presidential candidate two more times, in 1900 and 1908, but was never elected to the office. Bryan recorded excerpts of the speech for Gennett Records twenty-five years after the 1896 convention. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Eck Robertson, master old-time fiddler, is recognized as the first performer to make country music recordings. This Victor disc features Robertson as a soloist on "Sallie Gooden," and in a duet with fiddler Henry Gilliland performing "Arkansas Traveler" on the flip side. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This ensemble of trombonist Kid Ory, originally called "Spikes' Seven Pods of Pepper," was the first recording ever issued of a black jazz band from New Orleans. It was recorded by Andrae Nordskog for his Santa Monica, Calif.-based Nordskog record label. Under confusing circumstances, the record was issued on the Sunshine label belonging to Los Angeles music promoters the Spikes Brothers. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This odd Okeh record label recording of a bad cornet solo interspersed by a laughing woman and man was one of the most popular discs of the 1920s. The laughing was infectious to listeners, so much so that the disc was re-recorded several times and imitated by other record companies. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This recording of former President Woodrow Wilson made by phonograph technician Frank L. Capps is earliest surviving sound recording of a regular radio broadcast. It is also believed to be the earliest known example of a recording made by electrical, rather than acoustic, means. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Down-Hearted Blues is the best-selling and enduring first release by the "Empress of the Blues." Bessie Smith first recorded in 1923, launching a blues career that would have no parallel during the classic blues era. She recorded more than 150 songs over her 14-year recording career. Selected for the 2002 registry.
"Ma" Rainey, called by some "the mother of the blues," was a pioneering blues artist whose career began as a tent show and vaudeville performer. She is credited with influencing many blues singers, most notably, Bessie Smith. Although others recorded blues songs before Rainey and had begun to refine the genre, her recordings retain the powerful directness and poignancy that made her famous. Rainey made numerous recordings for the Paramount label; this recording is from a session she recorded with Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Before national radio networks existed, a group of stations cooperated to test how radio stations might respond to a national emergency and help the nation during a crisis. This recording is notable as one of only a handful of extant recorded radio broadcasts from early radio in the United States. It is technologically significant as an experiment of real-time switching between stations in 14 cities. It features conversations between General John J. Pershing and other Army generals stationed in different cities. Selected for the 2006 registry.
The first recording made of this classic American composition featured the composer at the piano and Paul Whiteman conducting. The recording was made several months after the 1924 Aeolian Hall premiere of the work. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Louis Armstrong was jazz's first great soloist, and among American music's most important and influential figures. These sessions, and his solos in particular, set a standard musicians still strive to equal in their beauty and innovation. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Calvin Coolidge's inauguration in 1925 was the first presidential inauguration to be broadcast. Using the latest technology, RCA and Bell Telephone aired the ceremonies over a makeshift network of radio stations. The New York Times estimated that more than 25 million Americans would be able to hear the president's address, thus making it a national event in a manner not previously possible. Twenty-one radio stations, linked in a circuit throughout the country, broadcast the president's 47-minute inaugural address from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. This recording was made as an experiment, not for publication. It features announcers Graham McNamee on AT&T's Red Network and Major J. Andrew White and Norman Brokenshire for the RCA/Westinghouse stations. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Representing a technological breakthrough, this early orchestral broadcast originated in London, traveled by land line to station 5XX in Chelmsford, crossed the Atlantic where it was picked up by an RCA transmitter in Maine, and relayed to stations WJZ in New York and WRC in Washington, D.C. Although the fidelity is low, the recording is significant as a documentation of a technical achievement and a very rare instance of an extant example of a complete radio broadcast of the 1920s. The entire 37-minute broadcast survives on discs in the collections of the University of Maryland’s Library of American Broadcasting.
Columbia Records chose to promote its new electrical recording process by recording a chorus of several thousand voices at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. Fifteen glee clubs participated in the March 31, 1925, concert. In the finale of concert performers and audience combined forces to record "Adeste Fideles." By recording electrically, with a microphone, rather than an acoustic recording horn, the sound produced was indeed more faithful to the actual performance, and louder, than any recording made by the older method. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The band on this Edison disc recording included such notable musicians as Red Nichols, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, and Adrian Rollini. The selection represents the Edison Disc Record Master Mold Collection at the Edison National Historic Site in West Orange, New Jersey. The Edison Phonograph Works used these metal molds to mass-produce disc records from 1910 to 1929 and as such, are the generation closest to original wax master. They are the best-sounding sources for Edison disc recordings, as well as the most stable, archivally. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Pawlo Humeniuk was a renowned violin player in Ukrainian communities before beginning his recording career with Columbia, for which he made this dance number. He learned violin in western Ukraine at the age of 6 and enjoyed a busy career playing concerts, dances and vaudeville theaters. The song is an excellent example of the ethnic releases that record labels began to produce in the 1920's for sale to immigrant communities in the United States. Selected for the 2005 registry.
“Black Bottom Stomp” is a masterly example of Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton’s creative talents as a composer, arranger and pianist. Moreover, it is an authentic representation of the New Orleans jazz tradition, which relied strongly on an ensemble polyphony where the frontline instruments of trumpet, clarinet and trombone played simultaneous but complementary themes. “Black Bottom Stomp” has more than one theme or “strain,” a carryover from ragtime. Arranged with harmonized passages, breaks and solos, and a changing balance between the instrumentalists, Morton fashioned a unique, continuous whole. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Lady, Be Good!, George and Ira Gershwin's debut Broadway score, produced such standards as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Oh, Lady Be Good." The show starred siblings Fred and Adele Astaire. Several songs from the score were recorded in 1926 when the musical was touring in London. The recordings offer an opportunity to appreciate the innocent appeal of Adele, who retired from show business in 1932, and the piano accompaniments of composer George Gershwin. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Upon the opening of the transatlantic telephone circuit for commercial service, W.S. Gifford, president of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., called Sir Evelyn P. Murray, secretary of the General Post Office of Great Britain, offering felicitations. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The "blue yodels" of Jimmie Rodgers, the "Father of Country Music," helped to define the country music. Rodgers's compositions and recorded performances combined black and white musical forms and popularized American rural music traditions. Selected for the 2004 registry.
NBC radio's June 11, 1927, coverage of the arrival of Charles A. Lindbergh in Washington D.C., was a landmark technical, as well as journalistic, achievement for the fledgling network. Radio reporters were stationed at the three locations in Washington to provide successive, 'live' descriptions of the pilot's arrival: the Washington Navy Yard; the procession along Pennsylvania Avenue; and his reception at the foot of the Washington Monument by President Calvin Coolidge. The voices of both President Coolidge and Colonel Lindbergh as they spoke were heard by the listeners who could tune into the broadcasts of the young radio network. Selected for the 2004 registry.
"Stardust" was songwriter Hoagy Carmichael's first great success. It was performed at a rapid tempo when it was first recorded in 1927 by "Hoagy Carmichael [on piano] and his Pals." In later, slower interpretations, "Stardust" became one of the most recorded ballads in jazz and popular repertories. Lyrics were added to the song in 1931. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Victor Records, searching for performers of "hillbilly" music, recorded performances by 19 local musicians in Bristol, Tennessee, in 1927. The amazing display of talent yielded such future country music recording stars as the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and Ernest Stoneman. The sessions are considered a watershed moment in the history of country music. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer and cornetist Bix Beiderbecke created some of the most significant jazz recordings of the 1920s, works still noted for their beauty and influence on fellow musicians. Traumbuer and Beiderbecke had worked together in the orchestras of Jean Goldkette, Adrian Rollini and Paul Whiteman. For a brief period in 1927, Trumbauer had his own recording contract with Okeh Records. Together with guitarist Eddie Lang and other members of the ensemble, Trumbauer and Beiderbecke recorded "Singin' the blues," which contains one of Beiderbecke's greatest solos. Selected for the 2005 registry.
“Wildwood Flower” showcases Maybelle Carter’s trademark guitar technique, in which she plays melody on the bass strings with her thumb and strums rhythm on the treble strings. The Carter Family’s close harmony singing, picking style and popularization of folk tunes, as well as other song genres, formed the foundation of modern country music and continues to significantly influence musicians today. Selected for the 2006 registry.
“Allons a Lafayette,” a lively two-step, was the first commercial recording of traditional Cajun music. Accordionist Joe Falcon and guitarist Cleoma Breaux, his future wife, recorded this song in a New Orleans field session on April 17, 1928, for Columbia Records. Falcon began playing the accordion as a child and soon became a well-known and sought-after dance hall musician, performing throughout Louisiana and other states. His recording career ended soon after Cleoma’s death, but he continued to play and perform with his second wife, Theresa, until his death in 1965. Selected for the 2007 registry.
The gifted American soprano Rosa Ponselle was known for her brilliant portrayal of Norma, Bellini’s Druid priestess who sacrifices herself on the funeral pyre of her Roman lover. A native of Connecticut, Ponselle made her Metropolitan Opera debut at the age of 21, playing Leonora opposite Enrico Caruso in “La Forza del Destino.” Previously, she and her sister Carmela appeared in vaudeville and in New York film theaters. The breadth of range, warmth and beauty of Ponselle’s art represented vocal perfection to many listeners and earned her a long and successful operatic and recording career. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Popular Cuban singer and radio artist Rita Montaner recorded the first version of the traditional song "El Manisero" in Havana in 1927. The Don Azpiazu and his Havana Casino orchestra version of "El Manisero," adapted from Montaner's recording, was made in New York City three years later. It is the first American recording of an authentic Latin dance style. This recording launched a decade of "rumbamania," introducing U.S. listeners to Cuban percussion instruments and Cuban rhythms. Selected for the 2005 registry.
"Fats" Waller's solo piano recording of his now-classic composition,"Ain't Misbehavin'," preserves the composer's inventive talents as a one of jazz's greatest pianists. Waller developed the "stride" piano tradition to a new level of musical expression. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Amadé Ardoin (1896-1941) was an African American accordionist whose passionate singing and syncopated playing left an influential legacy to both Cajun and Zydeco music. He first recorded in 1929 with fellow sharecropper, Dennis McGee (1893-1989,) a Cajun violinist. The popularity of their music, exhibiting a fine synthesis of Cajun and Creole styles, transcended racial barriers. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This vocal duet with guitar, by Pedro Rocha and Lupe Martinez, is an outstanding example of the "corridos" style of ballad. Reflecting the cultural conflicts between Mexican-Americans and Anglo-Americans in the American Southwest, it describes the heroics of a vaquero falsely accused of murder. The Vocalion recording of "Gregorio Cortez" is representative of the significant recordings being preserved in the Arhoolie Foundation's Strachwitz Frontera Collection of commercially produced Mexican and Mexican-American Recordings at the University of California, Los Angeles. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Sergei Rachmaninoff's piano performances of his own compositions are considered by many to be unparalleled. Rachmaninoff first recorded the complete 2nd piano concerto in 1929. Two of its three movements were released on acoustically recorded discs in 1924. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the invention of incandescent light, inventor Thomas Edison was honored at a dinner Oct. 21, 1929. Portions of the celebration were broadcast over an NBC radio network. Hosted by announcer Graham McNamee, the radio program included speeches by President Herbert Hoover, Marie Curie, Henry Ford and, speaking over shortwave from Berlin, Albert Einstein. Messages from the Prince of Wales, President Von Hindenberg and Commander Richard Byrd from the South Pole were read to Edison during the broadcast. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This is the signature recording of Charley Patton, one of the first and finest blues musicians to come out of the Mississippi Delta region. “Pony Blues” showcases Patton’s characteristic trademarks: powerful vocals, heavily accented guitar rhythms and unusual vocal phrasing. Patton was an enormous influence on his contemporaries and future blues performers, notably Howlin’ Wolf, Bukka White and Big Joe Williams. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Harvard Vocarium was a record label produced by the Harvard University Poetry Room in the 1930s and 1940s, which featured authors reading their own works. Among the writers recorded were T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, and Tennessee Williams. Selected for the 2002 registry.
The Highlander Center has played important roles in many political movements. These discs document Zilphia Horton, who introduced "We Will Overcome" to the Southern Labor Movement, and later, to Pete Seeger. The collection also includes recordings of activists Myles Horton, Rosa Parks, Esau Jenkins, and Septima Clark. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This 1930 recording of the Modesto, Calif., High School Band is the only known recording made by a high school band participating in the National High School Band contests held between 1926 and 1934. Under the direction of Frank Mancini, Modesto High School placed third in the 1927 and 1928 contests, and second in 1929. An important educator and conductor who directed band programs in California area schools, Mancini was a former member of the bands of John Philip Sousa and Patrick Conway. Limited edition high school band recordings were once common, produced as fundraising tools for school bands and treasured as souvenirs by band members. However, few high school bands were recorded before the advent of tape recording and long-playing discs in
the late 1940s. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This ballad about a New Hampshire tragedy is one of the earliest recordings made by Helen Hartness Flanders. She recorded many similar vernacular story-songs in her extensive documentation of the vernacular music of Vermont. The recording is held by Middlebury College. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Experimental recordings made by the Bell Laboratories in early 1930s resulted in the first high-fidelity, stereo recordings. Among them were recordings which feature this great American orchestra under its renowned, and controversial, conductor, Leopold Stokowski. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Original cast recordings of hit musicals were not made at the time of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's landmark 1927 show, "Show Boat." Brunswick Records recorded 10 sides of selections from the musical in 1932 and issued them as an album set. The most notable performances on the set are those of Helen Morgan, the original "Julie" in the musical, and Paul Robeson, who played "Joe" in the London cast. The set also includes discs of the musical's overture and finale, making it as close to an original cast album as one may encounter from this period. Selected for the 2005 registry.
African American linguist Lorenzo D. Turner recorded numerous Gullah dialect stories, songs, sermons, and accounts of slavery during the summers of 1932 and 1933. In this oral narrative, Rosina Cohen recounts her memories of slaves being freed by Yankees on Edisto Island. The recording is significant as a permanent record of a vanishing American regional dialect and as a document of African American cultural history. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Composer and lyricist Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler intended their 1933 song, "Stormy Weather" to be sung by Cab Calloway in a revue at Harlem's Cotton Club. Instead, Ethel Waters performed the song. The singer began her career as a blues singer but became a pioneer jazz singer, adapting her voice to a conversational style in which the meaning of the song lyrics are conveyed with subtle theatricality. Waters's "Stormy Weather" became a best seller, bringing her tremendous exposure as a jazz singer and incomparable interpreter of the American Songbook. Selected for the 2004 registry.
The Fireside Chats were an influential series of radio broadcasts in which Roosevelt utilized the media to present his programs directly to the public and thereby redefined the relationship between the president and the American people. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Huddie Ledbetter (1889-1949), better known as Leadbelly, or Lead Belly, sang spirituals, popular songs, field and prison hollers, cowboy and children's songs, dance tunes and folk ballads, as well as his own compositions. Leadbelly was first recorded in 1933, by John and Alan Lomax when the singer was serving time in the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The Lomaxes were recording ballads and folksongs for the Library of Congress. "Goodnight Irene," Leadbelly's best-known song, became a best seller for the Weavers in 1950, just months after his death. This is the first recording of "Irene," which includes some lyrics that were later changed. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The acknowledged father of modern gospel music, Thomas A. Dorsey made only a handful of gospel recordings himself. Recording first as “Georgia Tom” and “Barrelhouse Tom,” Dorsey was a noted blues artist and composer during the 1920s and early 1930s. In 1932, he dedicated the remainder of his life exclusively to gospel music. In four sessions in 1932 and 1934, Dorsey recorded several songs for Vocalion, including his popular composition, “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again,” which were released under his own name. His voice, although well-suited to his earlier blues and jazz recordings, was said to have lacked the qualities needed for gospel music and he made no further recordings, concentrating instead on songwriting and publishing. (Thomas Dorsey is not related to big-band leader Tommy Dorsey.) Selected for the 2007 registry.
“You’re the Top” is a work of composer/lyricist Cole Porter at the top of his form. Seamlessly, the words and music of this quintessential “list song” convey wit, exuberance, and charming high and low culture references. This solo performance invites the listener to become part of Porter’s universe and imagine the composer performing much as he might have for his friends on a luxury cruise ship or in his Waldorf Astoria suite. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This series of 30 discs was published by Henry Cowell as part of his ground-breaking efforts to promote avant-garde music in the United States. The discs were issued in conjunction with his scholarly journal, New Music, and include works by Walter Piston, Otto Luening, Edgar Varese, Henry Cowell, and Charles Ives. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Huey Long (1893-1935), governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930, but did not take his Senate seat until 1932, after he had handpicked a successor for the governorship. A radical populist, he proposed a "Share the Wealth" plan, with the motto, "Every Man a King." The wealth was to be shared by increases in inheritance taxes on the rich, which would "guarantee a family wealth of around $5,000; enough for a home and automobile, a radio, and the ordinary conveniences." In this 1935 radio speech the Senator outlines his plan and explains why he no longer supports President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Fiddler and vocalist Roy Acuff's "Wabash Cannonball" was first recorded in 1936, featuring the vocals of Sam "Dynamite" Hatcher of Acuff's band, the Crazy Tennesseans. Acuff later changed the band's name to the Smoky Mountain Boys while continuing to make himself well known through motion picture appearances, recordings and personal tours. He first appeared in 1938 as a regular on the Grand Ole Opry and was its top star by 1942. "Wabash Cannonball" was recorded again by Acuff, this time with his own vocals, in 1947. Acuff was the first living artist to be elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1962. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The vocal art of contralto Marian Anderson showed equal mastery of both the classical and spiritual repertory. In 1929, she gave her first recital at Carnegie Hall which served to launch her career in the U.S. and abroad. She is remembered for her performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where in 1955 she was the first African American performer, as well as her landmark 1939 concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The spiritual, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," was one of Anderson's favorites, often performed at the conclusion of her recitals. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The recordings made by Delta bluesman Robert Johnson in 1936 and 1937 had a significant impact on fellow bluesmen, as well as on such rock musicians as Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. Considered by some to be the "King of the Delta Blues Singers," Johnson's emotive vocals, combined with his varied and masterful guitar playing, continue to influence blues and popular music performers to this day. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This landmark of the big band Swing Era first came together as a "head arrangement." Head arrangements, worked out in rehearsal and committed to memory rather than written down, gave much freedom to soloists and allowed the musicians to concentrate on the rhythmic drive for which Kansas City jazz and the Basie orchestra is noted. The Basie orchestra, like most Kansas City-style bands, was organized around its rhythm section. The interplay of brass and reeds on the "One o'Clock Jump" serves as a backdrop for the unfolding solos of the band's extraordinary players, including Lester Young, Herschel Evans and Buck Clayton. Selected for the 2005 registry.
As broadcast on "The Columbia Workshop," Earle McGill's production of Archibald MacLeish's chilling vision of a not-so-future war featured Orson Welles as the narrator. This program brought experimental radio as pioneered by "The Columbia Workshop" to maturity and profoundly influenced a generation of creative radio producers and directors. Selected for the 2005 registry.
An emotional, never-to-be-forgotten, moment of news broadcasting in which a tragedy is witnessed and spontaneously reported. This actuality recording was the first exception to network radio's ban on the airing of recordings. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This broadcast, titled "The Osage Bank Robbery," is the earliest known recording of this popular series to surface. It features a pair of brothers who rob a bank, hide out in an abandoned mine, and are eventually discovered and brought to justice by the Lone Ranger. The series had been on the air since early 1933 and its popularity was already enormous. In fact, the show reversed the failing finances of Detroit station WXYZ, and, when WXYZ banded with several other stations to form the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1934, the show proved central to the success of the network as a whole. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This pioneer Virginia gospel quartet of the 1930s and 1940s had a profound influence on gospel music, furthering the development of gospel vocal quartets from the Jubilee-style of the 19th century to one influenced by 20th century jazz and popular music. Their smooth Mills Brothers-influenced harmonies, humor and vocal improvisations brought the quartet large audiences that extended far beyond the church. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Prior to the release of its 1938 film, "The Adventures of Robin Hood," Warner Bros. studio arranged to promote the motion picture by broadcasting portions of its musical score over its Los Angeles radio station, KFWB. The radio broadcast included composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold's symphonic scoring of 10 sequences from the film, with narration by actor Basil Rathbone. "Robin Hood" is one of Korngold's most respected dramatic scores, an outstanding example of what he termed "operas without words." Because commercial recordings of motion picture scores did not exist in 1938, this unusual film score recording was not published until 1975. Selected for the 2005 registry.
It is believed that more than 70 million people, the largest audience to date for a single radio broadcast, listened to NBC's broadcast of the boxing rematch between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmeling. From its inception, the fight was viewed as more than a sports event. The symbolism of an African American defeating a citizen of the political state that proclaimed the superiority of the white race was lost on no one. Veteran announcer Clem McCarthy delivered a blow-by-blow account of the 124-second match to radio audiences from a packed Madison Square Garden. Selected for the 2005 registry.
In 1938, folklorist Alan Lomax recorded an extensive series of interviews at the Library of Congress with Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton. Morton performed his own compositions and those which influenced him, and told the story of his life over his piano vamping. Morton did not "invent" jazz, as he claimed to in the interviews, but he was the art-form's first great composer. The recordings offer a fascinating, if not entirely accurate, autobiography of the musician, and a rich picture of life in early 20th century New Orleans. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This live concert recording catches clarinetist and band leader Benny Goodman, touted as the "King of Swing," at his peak, fronting top performers and appearing before an energetic audience for the debut of jazz at Carnegie Hall. Goodman's stellar bandsmen were joined by Lionel Hampton and members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington ensembles for this famous festival of jazz during the height of the swing music era. "Swingtime in the Rockies," a jam on "Honeysuckle Rose," and Goodman's signature piece, "Sing, Sing, Sing" are highlights. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The Mercury Theater's finely-crafted radio drama about Martian invaders is one of the best-written and produced works in its genre. Its realistic format caused considerable alarm to many listeners across the U.S. Selected for the 2002 registry.
"Adagio for Strings," adapted for orchestra by Samuel Barber from a movement of his 1936 String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11, was created for maestro Arturo Toscanini. It was premiered to a widely enthusiastic audience on a Nov. 5, 1938, radio broadcast of the NBC Symphony. Its tense melodic line and taut harmonies have made this moving composition one of the most popular of all 20th century classical works. The work is often performed and can be heard in the scores of many motion pictures and television programs, most notably "Platoon" and an episode of "Seinfeld." Selected for the 2005 registry.
The first recorded radio performance of this famous Abbott and Costello routine comes from radio's Kate Smith Hour. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This is the original version of Irving Berlin's classic performed by Kate Smith on her radio program. Her rendition still retains a potent sense of patriotism, as was witnessed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 tragedies. Selected for the 2002 registry.
The recording of this controversial musical about labor unions was the first complete recording of a Broadway show. The work was originally intended for production by the Federal Theater Project. Selected for the 2002 registry.
An unlikely jukebox hit, this recording by Hawkins was the most popular and influential recording he made and one of the best-known recorded jazz performances in history. Through the influence of this recording, "Body and Soul" became a standard for tenor sax players, with many later recordings referencing parts of Hawkins's solo and playing in the challenging key of D flat. Selected for the 2004 registry.
"In the Mood," composed by Joe Garland and Andy Razaf, was one of Glenn Miller's most popular recordings and remains one of the best known musical themes of the World War II era. Miller led one of the most popular dance bands of the swing era. His arrangements were distinguished by a doubled melody on saxophone with a clarinet an octave higher. The sound his band produced was seamless and precise. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Sergey Prokofiev brought his "orchestral fairy tale," Peter and the Wolf, to Moscow audiences in 1936, having composed the music and written the narration as a children's introduction to orchestral music. Prokoviev conducted the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall at the American premiere in1938. This premiere recording of the work was performed by the Boston Symphony, under the direction of Serge Koussevitzky, with narration by Richard Hale. Selected for the 2004 registry.
This aural time capsule preserves the full day (6:30 AM to 1:00 AM) of roadcasting by a CBS network affiliate radio station. It is the first such recording of an American station. Highlights include Arthur Godfrey, soap operas, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's address to Congress, coverage of the war in Europe, a baseball game, Amos 'n' Andy, and Major Bowes Amateur Hour, as well as contemporary commercials. Selected for the 2003 registry.
John Lomax, honorary consultant and curator for the fledgling Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, recorded hundreds of performances of ballads, blues, cowboy songs, field hollers, spirituals, and work songs in nine southern states. Many ethnomusicologists consider the recordings made on this field trip to be among the most important in this genre. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Grand Ole Opry. First network radio broadcast. Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, and others. (1939) Selected for the 2002 registry.
The searing song, "Strange Fruit," is arguably Billie Holiday's most influential recording, bringing the topic of lynching to the commercial record-buying public. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Duke Ellington is considered one of the greatest composers and band leaders of the 20th century. His band's recordings for RCA Victor while bassist Jimmy Blanton and tenor sax player Ben Webster were among its personnel are thought by many to represent a period of unparalleled creativity. Billy Strayhorn, arranger and composer, and Duke's son, Mercer, contributed much to these recordings. Selected for the 2002 registry.
People who listened to an Art Tatum record often wondered if it featured multiple pianists. Tatum's cascading runs up and down the keyboard, the scales, arpeggios, broken bass lines and two-fisted piano choruses, often taken at blistering speeds, gave this impression. Although contemporary critics found his playing "ornate" and devoid of improvisation, Tatum won his spurs as a jazz pianist. "Sweet Lorraine" is one of his signature tunes. Its relaxed tempo allows one to hear and follow all the typical Tatum action, including the harmonies and dissonances that give any Tatum performance undisputed originality. Selected for the 2007 registry.
The hall closet at 79 Wistful Vista, home of Fibber McGee and Molly (played by Jim and Marion Jordan) was the source of one of radio’s most successful running gags and America’s best-known pile of junk. The effect played on the strength of the sound medium. Frank Pittman, the program’s sound-effects engineer, created the comic catastrophe. The initial click of the door latch tantalizingly opened the routine. Then the thump of several boxes hitting the floor followed and grew to a crescendo of falling bric-a-brac increasing in speed and intensity until the victim was buried under a mountain of pots, pans, fish poles, dumbbells, skates, pie pans and coffee pots. The coda of the avalanche was the tinkling of a little bell. The gag was so effective that crowded, cluttered storage areas in homes are still compared by some to the closet of Fibber McGee. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Edward R. Murrow's eyewitness news broadcasts of the Battle of Britain conveyed the emotions and sounds of a city under siege to audiences throughout the United States. One of the best-remembered of that series of 1940 broadcasts was on of September 21 when Murrow dispassionately described the bombing of London from a rooftop during the blitzkrieg. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Bob Wills is considered one of the pioneers of the musical amalgam of old-time fiddle music, blues, pop, and jazz, that came to be known as western swing. This recording of Wills' signature song became an American standard. Earlier recorded by Wills as an instrumental, this horn-laden version added the "Deep within my heart . . ." lyrics that are still popular. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Hailed by critics as a "landmark performance," this recorded performance at the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium captures the electric, live-performance chemistry between composer/pianist Bela Bartok and his champion and fellow countryman, violinist Joseph Szigeti. They perform works by Bartok, Beethoven, and Debussy. Selected for the 2002 registry.
The Budapest Quartet, known for its virtuosity, drive, and depth of interpretive insight, was among the most honored and respected chamber ensembles of the 20th century. As the Library of Congress' Quartet-in-Residence for 22 years, the Budapest brought the Beethoven string quartets, in live concert and on Columbia Records, to a wider audience than ever before. Many subsequent string quartets have acknowledged their indebtedness to the Budapest. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Although the 1935 original production of Porgy and Bess was not a commercial success, the edited 1942 revival won popular as well as critical acclaim. This recording of 1940 and 1942 was the first to feature the originators of the title roles and stars of the revival, Todd Duncan and Anne Brown. George Gershwin's score beautifully exhibits mastery of combining his Broadway idiom with jazz, folk, and classical elements. It includes the well-known "Summertime," "My Man's Gone Now," "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'," and "Bess, You is My Woman." Conceived as an "American folk opera," Gershwin envisioned his work as a "combination of the drama and romance of Carmen and the beauty of Meistersinger." Selected for the 2003 registry.
The first U.S. recording of this 20th century masterwork as conducted by the composer is considered by many to be the best recording of Stravinsky conducting the work. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Commissioned to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, radio prducer and writer Norman Corwin created We Hold These Truths. The one-hour drama exploring American values aired one week after the invasion of Pearl Harbor. The broadcast was carried on all four radio networks simultaneously to an audience of more than 60 million listeners, roughly half of the U.S. population at the time, and was the largest audience in history to listen to a dramatic presentation. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Game four of the 1941 World Series has long been remembered as the game when Mickey Owen dropped the ball. With two outs, no Yankees on base, and Brooklyn leading 4-3, a third strike on the Yankee's Tommy Henrich got past Dodgers catcher Owen and instead of clinching a victory to tie the series at 2-2, Brooklyn saw the Yankees go on to score four runs and win 7-4. New York won the series the following afternoon. This radio broadcast features the "Voice of the Dodgers," and later the Yankees, Red Barber, along with Bob Elson, Bill Corum, as announcers. Colorful, innovative, and much respected, Barber remains a legend in the elite world of baseball broadcasters. Selected for the 2003 registry.
"Yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." The day after the assault on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed a joint session of Congress asking for a Declaration of War against Japan, marking the entry of the United States into World War II. The president’s voice, strong and confident, yet familiar and reassuring, rallied the American public and helped to prepare them for the sacrifices that lay ahead. Selected for the 2006 registry.
The Wings Over Jordan choir was founded in 1935 by Rev. Glenn T. Settle, pastor of the Gethsemane Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1937, they began appearing on the radio program, “The Negro Hour,” singing spirituals and other traditional gospel songs on local station WGAR. By 1938, the choir had become nationally known, broadcasting on CBS. The show, renamed “Wings Over Jordan,” featured prominent African-American artists and scholars as well as choir selections. It ran until 1947. Many of these radio programs can be studied and appreciated today because they were pressed as electrical transcriptions and for broadcasts by the Armed Forces Radio Network. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Although Bob Hope is known for his tireless touring for United Service Organizations (USO) shows, he also lent his services to other entertainment projects for the troops during World War II, including "Command Performance." Of the programs broadcast by the Armed Forces Radio Service – a wartime broadcasting service for the troops – "Command Performance" consistently attracted the biggest stars of the day. Hope appeared on the program as master of ceremonies a number of times, and service personnel reported greatly enjoying his performances. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Leopold Stokowski and his All-American Youth Orchestra performed in Rio de Janeiro as part of a goodwill tour to South America in the summer of 1940. Prior to his visit to Brazil, Stokowski asked composer Heitor Villa-Lobos to help him collect and record popular Brazilian music, of which the conductor was a great admirer. Villa-Lobos assembled an elite group of musicians, including Pixinguinha, Donga, Cartola, Jararaca, Ratinho and José Espinguela. Forty recordings were made onboard the ship carrying Stokowski and the orchestra. Seventeen of the recordings, embracing musical styles such as sambas, batucadas, macumba and emboladas, were released in 1942 by Columbia Records on a 78-rpm album, “Native Brazilian Music.” Selected for the 2006 registry.
The original 1942 commercial recording by Bing Crosby. Crosby's 1947 rendition of this Irving Berlin classic is one of the best-selling records ever made, but it is actually a remake of the 1942 version. That Decca Records recording was also very popular but its master was lost or damaged. The 1947 version was recorded under John Scott Trotter, the same music director as the original, and utilized the same arrangement, but Crosby's reading is slightly different than the 1942 recording. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Oklahoma! holds the distinction of being the first Broadway "original cast album" to be recorded and marketed by a major company. The 78-rpm disc album was enormously successful and led to the nearly systematic recording of new musicals on Broadway. The cast included Alfred Drake as Curly, Joan Roberts as Laurey, and Celeste Holm as Ado Annie. Oklahoma! was also the first major collaboration between Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Favorites from the score include "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," and "People Will Say We're in Love." Selected for the 2003 registry.
Paul Robeson, actor, singer, activist, and lawyer, assumed the leading role for the 1943 Broadway production Othello following his return to New York from England, where he had won wide acclaim for his portrayal of the same role. This multi-talented man with a rich, bass voice mesmerized audiences and, along with co-stars Uta Hagen and José Ferrer, made this production of Othello the longest Broadway run of any Shakespeare play up to that time. Selected for the 2003 registry.
To promote the purchase of bonds during World War II, Arturo Toscanini and Vladimir Horowitz donated their services for an Easter Sunday afternoon concert, held at Carnegie Hall on April 25, 1943. The performance raised more than $10 million dollars. The second half of the concert was broadcast by NBC. It consisted of Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto, the Nutcracker Suite, and the "Star-Spangled Banner." Selected for the 2004 registry.
The King Cole Trio, featuring Nat "King" Cole on piano and vocals, is one of most respected small-group ensembles in jazz history. Cole's astonishing technical command of the piano, featuring a deceptively light touch, influenced many of the greatest piano virtuosos who followed him, including Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson and Bill Evans. His vocal solo on this recording introduced audiences to his beautifully smooth singing, immaculate diction and liquid style, launching his career as a one of the most popular singers of the mid-20th century. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, considered to be one of the greatest gospel singers of her generation, merged blues and jazz into her performances and influenced many gospel, jazz and rock artists. She sang at John Hammond's historic 1938 concert, "From Spirituals to Swing," in Carnegie Hall, and was a frequent performer in night clubs as well as before religious groups. "Down by the Riverside" captures her spirited guitar playing and unique vocal style, demonstrating clearly her influence on early rhythm-and-blues performers. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Woody Guthrie, a legendary folk poet, had a strong influence on the folksong revival of the 1950s. He wrote or adapted over 1,000 songs, including the classic, "This Land." Guthrie intended the song to be a grassroots response to "God Bless America." Selected for the 2002 registry.
General Eisenhower's radio address to European citizens on the day of the Allied Normandy Invasion, announces the invasion, requests their support, and promises liberation. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Charlie Parker (alto sax) was another of jazz's premier improvising soloists. "Koko" signaled the birth of a new era in jazz--bebop. This session for Savoy Records featured Charlie Parker with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Fiorello LaGuardia, the effervescent mayor who is credited with building modern New York City, regularly took to the radio to communicate directly with the citizens of the city. One of LaGuardia’s most recounted acts as mayor was when he read the comics to the children of the city on WNYC radio during the 1945 newspaper delivery strike. He performed animated, dramatic readings, describing the action in the panels, creating different voices and adding excitement with various sound effects. This benevolent image of LaGuardia was immortalized in the opening scene of the Pulitzer Prize-winning musical “Fiorello!” Surviving recordings of LaGuardia reading the comics are held in the WNYC Collection of New York’s Municipal Archives. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Starting on Dec.13, 1942, "The Fred Allen Show" featured a segment known as "Allen's Alley" in which Allen would stroll along a fictitious alley and meet a colorful cast of characters, including Senator Bloat, Minerva Pious, Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum and Falstaff Openshaw. One measure of the continuing influence of the show was Warner Bros.' modeling the cartoon rooster Foghorn Leghorn on Senator Claghorn, the blustery Southern politician who was a regular character on "Allen's Alley." The Oct. 7, 1945, broadcast marked the debut of the Senator Claghorn character. Selected for the 2005 registry.
"Jole Blon," by fiddler Harry Choates, is credited with introducing Cajun music to a national audience and making that genre a significant component of country music. Choates is known to many as the "Godfather of Cajun Music" and "Fiddle King of Cajun Swing." "Jole Blon," recorded for the Gold Star label, quickly became a country charts hit, the first Cajun song to make the top 10. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The charming musical story of Tubby introduces children to the sounds and roles of orchestra instruments and is one of the most enduring children's recordings ever made. The work was first recorded in 1946, featuring the narration of character actor Victor Jory. "Tubby" has since been recorded in many different forms. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Harry Partch, American composer and instrument maker, said his music was "based on a monophonic system of acoustic intervals and an expandable source scale of more than 40 notes to the so-called scale." He was known for his adaptation and invention of instruments, including the chromelodeon, the chordophone, the kitchara, the harmonic canon and the bloboys. U.S. Highball (A Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip) for chorus and instruments was first performed in Carnegie Hall in 1944. It is an account of a freight train ride from California to Chicago, part of a larger body of work that Partch composed after traveling the country. Partch recorded on his own label, Gate 5, with his group, Gate 5 Ensemble. Selected for the 2004 registry.
The first recording of this blues standard was made by the Black and White label in Los Angeles on Sept. 14, 1947. Backing up Walker on the session are Lloyd C. Glenn on piano, Bumps Myers on tenor sax and Teddy Buckner playing a muted trumpet. This lineup adds a strong jazz inflection to the recording. The song was reinterpreted with great success by a wide range of blues, rock and jazz recording artists, including Bobby Blue Bland, Lou Rawls, The Allman Brothers and Kenny Burrell. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Robert Shaw, one of the most successful and influential choral conductors in the United States, led his newly-formed chorale in this 1947 recording of Bach's B-Minor Mass. Shaw's use of relatively small forces for this Baroque masterpiece was novel at the time. It influenced subsequent performances and contributed to the trend toward more "authenticity" in the performance practice of early music. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Virgil Thomson's opera, Four Saints in Three Acts, is generally acknowledged to be one of the greatest American operas. Its libretto was written by Gertrude Stein. Selections from the opera were recorded in 1947 by RCA Victor with many of the original cast members and Thomson conducting the orchestra and choir. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Latin jazz, sometimes called Afro–Cuban jazz, incorporates jazz improvisation with Cuban rhythms. The music strongly emphasizes percussion, using congas, timbales and bongos to supplement piano, guitar or vibes with horns and vocals. A pioneer of this pulsating, infectious sound was Dizzy Gillespie, who was greatly influenced by Chano Pozo, a Cuban singer and drummer. Performing with Gillespie for the first time in 1947, Pozo joined Gillespie's bebop big band and composed "Manteca" with him, later recording it for RCA Victor. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Louis Kaufman was one of the most recorded violinists of the 20th century with a brilliant career performing both film music and classical music. His 1947 recording of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with the Concert Hall Orchestra conducted by Henry Swoboda, was the first LP recording of the work that would become one of the most often recorded in the classical repertoire. Kaufman's performance would also play a pivotal role in the revival of Baroque music and interest in performance practice of early music. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This recording of the bluegrass standard by the composer and "Father of Bluegrass," mandolinist Bill Monroe, is the earliest recording of that standard. "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was recorded by many other musicians, including Elvis Presley on the Sun Sessions. Presley's version was such a hit that Monroe later revised his performances to reflect Presley's influence. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This recording was gospel singer Mahalia Jackson's breakthrough disc, a best-seller that appealed equally to black and white audiences and reputedly became the best-selling gospel release to date. Jackson blends the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing. She helped to make gospel music popular with racially diverse audiences of all religions. Selected for the 2005 registry.
John Kirkpatrick, eminent pianist and energetic promoter of American music, premiered Ives' "Concord" Sonata in 1939. His performance of the technically-demanding work earned enthusiastic reviews for both Ives and Kirkpatrick and led to Kirkpatrick's recording of the work. Now considered one of the most original of American composers, Ives' works changed the direction of American music. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Jack Benny's career started in vaudeville, but he soon mastered other show business formats, including radio, television and motion pictures. Benny is best remembered as the parsimonious straight man to his regular casts on radio and television. In a skit broadcast in 1948, Benny was held up by a thief. When asked by the robber, "Your money or your life," Benny paused and eventually replied, "I'm thinking it over." Selected for the 2004 registry.
Prior to the 1948 Democratic Convention, President Truman’s popularity was low and political commentators were sure that Thomas Dewey would easily win the presidential election. One of Truman’s advisors admitted that the president had a “speaking problem” -- he relied too heavily on prepared scripts and his delivery was rushed and occasionally unintelligible. In this speech, Truman worked only from a loose script and, as a result, he found his natural voice. In a down-to-earth and direct manner, which included colloquialisms from his home state of Missouri, the feisty president predicted, “Senator Barkley and I will win this election and make the Republicans like it. Don’t you forget it.” The applause lasted for a full two minutes. Defying many predictions, Truman won re-election. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, made this influential recording for Mercury Records on December 11, 1949, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The first of many instrumental hits featuring Scrugg's three-finger banjo picking style, it has set benchmarks for generations of banjo players and bluegrass performers. The 1949 recording of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" was famously featured as chase music in the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde. Selected for the 2004 registry.
At a time when many 78-rpm discs were still sold in plain brown sleeves, producer Norman Granz released this limited-edition album set for Mercury Records that included commissioned line drawings by David Stone Martin, large photographs by Gjon Mili and 12 sides of the most innovative jazz of the time. While illustrated album sets were not new at the time, the lavishness of this release was unique. Among the artists represented on the set are Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Machito and Coleman Hawkins (who plays an unaccompanied tenor sax solo). The presence on the album of Machito’s selection “Tanga” points to the increasing significance of Afro-Cuban jazz in the late 1940s. During that time, Charlie Parker had recorded with Machito and his arranger/trumpeter Mario Bauza. Many other jazz musicians, most notably Dizzy Gillespie, would make important recordings of Afro-Cuban jazz. Selected for the 2007 registry.
This career-making record became Hank Williams's number one hit, propelling him from regional success to national stardom. It was this recording which led to Williams being invited to perform on the Grand Old Opry. At his first appearance, the Opry audience demanded six encores of his yodeled closing line of the song. Selected for the 2004 registry.
The Broadway musical fable Guys and Dolls is considered to be one of the greatest musical comedies every produced. It features a masterful score by Frank Loesser as well as an excellent book based on short stories of Damon Runyon. The recording by its original cast preserves aurally many definitive performances of the show's musical treasures, most notably, those by Vivian Blaine and Stubby Kaye. Selected for the 2004 registry.
“Peace in the Valley” was originally written in 1939 by Thomas A. Dorsey for Mahalia Jackson, but as performed by Red Foley and the Sunshine Boys, it becomes an affecting expression of devotion in the southern gospel music style. At the time of this recording, Clyde Julian “Red” Foley was a recording star for Decca Records and host of the half-hour NBC network segment of the “Grand Ole Opry.” This blending of Foley's calm baritone with the close harmony of the vocal quartet resulted in the first gospel recording to sell one million copies. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This exciting performance introduced over-dubbing recording techniques to the public and paved the way for studio production techniques still in use today. Selected for the 2002 registry.
After President Harry S. Truman relieved General Douglas A. MacArthur of duty for a series of public statements that urged the invasion of China and hinted that the President was practicing appeasement, MacArthur was invited to address a joint session of Congress. In spite of the controversy, surrounding MacArthur, his speech is noted for its eloquence and effectiveness. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Prior to this LP, the first of Mercury's noted Living Presence series, orchestras were recorded by a variety of multiple microphone methods, all with artificial balances and few with concert hall ambience. The Kubelik/Mussorgsky, recorded with a single Neumann U47 suspended above and behind the conductor, was revolutionary in that for the first time, the recorded balance was that of the orchestra, not a technician. This recording is of such merit that many believe that the technical methodology has not been improved upon to this day. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The "Harry Smith Anthology," compiled for Folkways Records from obscure, commercially released 78-rpm discs originally recorded between 1926 and 1934, brought a variety of neglected and virtually forgotten genres of American music to the public's attention. The anthology was drawn from the personal record collection of the independent filmmaker and record collector Harry Smith, who also annotated and illustrated the set. It includes country blues, hillbilly tunes, Cajun social music, Appalachian murder ballads and other genres of American music rarely heard on record in the early 1950s. The LP set was widely influential and played a seminal role in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The names of Artur Rubinstein and Frederic Chopin are inextricably linked in the minds of at least two generations of 20th-century music lovers. At the heart of the bond between pianist and composer is their shared Polish heritage, and nowhere is the connection so great as in Rubinstein’s interpretation of the Polonaise in A Major, Op. 40, No. 1, known as the “Military Polonaise.” Rubinstein supplied the iconic reading of this revered, often-recorded work. The combination of strength and heart-felt poetry is a hallmark of Rubinstein’s playing in this piece, and it stirred the souls of patriots—of all nationalities—during the German occupation of Poland. Selected for the 2006 registry.
An “answer song” to Hank Thompson’s country hit “Wild Side of Life,” which criticized a woman who gave up true love for the lure of the honky-tonk, Kitty Wells’s “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” argues that wayward men are to blame when women stray. Wells’s breakthrough hit established her as a major star and, more importantly, markedly broadened the range of subject matter considered appropriate for female country singers. The recording paved the way for increasingly frank songs by Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and other female country music stars. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Representative of the Ivan Walton Collection, Bentley Library, University of Michigan. In the 1930s, Great Lakes folklorist Ivan Walton collected songs and music in the northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula in an effort to save the music of Great Lakes sailors. This recording by fiddler Pat Bonner reflects and preserves a fading tradition tied to maritime life at the end of the schooner era. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This popular album of satiric songs started as a campus hit at Harvard University where Lehrer was a graduate student in mathematics and a regular performer. Lehrer has said that he recorded it for $15 for release to his Harvard audience, but despite this minuscule budget, it sold an estimated 370,000 copies. Among the prominent comedians to have claimed Lehrer as an influence are Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Weird Al Yankovich. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Billy Graham began preaching after attending Florida Bible Institute (now Trinity College) and Wheaton College, for the local Youth for Christ organization in 1945. The rallies he organized impressed many leaders in the Christian evangelical community. He came into national prominence in 1949 with the launch of his crusades to major U.S. cities and around the world. For the next five decades, Graham built his following in person and later via television, becoming a major religious, social, and political figure. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Frank Sinatra's Capitol Records "concept" album is filled with American song standards and rich arrangements by Nelson Riddle. This album demonstrated a mature and confident Sinatra who transcended his earlier popularity as a favorite of bobbysoxers. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Recorded in Boston's Symphony Hall on Feb. 21 and 22, 1954, this "live" performance of Berlioz's "dramatic legend" was recorded through a single condenser microphone suspended 17 feet above the conductor's podium, with one auxiliary microphone enlisted occasionally to strengthen the chorus. Conductor Charles Munch, considered one of the great interpreters of Berlioz, leads the Boston orchestra with assistance from G. Wallace Woodworth directing the Harvard Glee Club and Radcliffe Choral Society. Soloists include Suzanne Danco, David Poleri, Martial Singher and Donald Gramm. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Released as a "B-side," this doo wop ballad quickly garnered enormous popularity and became one of the first recordings to cross over. It climbed to the number 3 position on the rhythm-and-blues charts and reached number 8 on the pop charts. Billboard has termed the single of this song the "top R&B record of all time" measured by continuous popular appeal. The Penguins, a vocal group from Los Angeles that formed in 1954, featured high-school friends Cleveland Duncan (lead), Dexter Tisby (tenor), Bruce Tate (baritone), and Curtis Williams (bass). The recording was released on the DooTone label which was a black -owned and black-operated label. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Originally recorded in 1941 for the Library of Congress by Alan Lomax on a recording expedition to Mississippi, Muddy Waters went on to become an exemplar of Chicago's electric, urban blues style. "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," written by Chess Records mainstay Willie Dixon was one of Waters's hit numbers. It features a tight band with Dixon on bass, Little Walter on harmonica, Otis Span on piano, Jimmy Rogers on guitar, and Fred Below on drums. Selected for the 2004 registry.
The group of recordings made at Sun Studios launched the career of Elvis Presley, and helped to create the rock 'n' roll era. They were the singer's first recordings and remain his most widely respected. The recordings include Elvis's rendition of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Selected for the 2002 registry.
Following his landmark 1955 recording of J.S. Bach's "Aria with (30) diverse variations...," also known as the Goldberg Variations, Glenn Gould's name has been inextricably linked with this masterful work that concludes Bach's 1742 set of keyboard exercises, the Clavierübung. Gould is remembered as a remarkable, eccentric, pianist with a unique, studied, yet emotional approach to performance. The Goldberg Variations is the only work Gould chose to record a second time, the second recording being made in 1981, shortly before his death. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Carl Perkins was one of the pioneers of rockabilly, the up-tempo fusion of country-western music and rhythm and blues. His aggressive vocal stylizations, backed by electric lead guitar, slapping string bass and drums, were of immediate appeal to the burgeoning teenage population of the mid-1950s. Due to an extended recovery from a serious car crash, Perkins never gained the popularity of his contemporary Elvis Presley, yet this first-generation rocker’s driving style maintains its rebellious allure more than 50 years after its creation. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This recording is significant not only for its powerful performances, but because it presents William L. Dawson's arrangements of spirituals, which are still widely used by choirs today. Booker T. Washington founded The Tuskegee Institute Choir in 1887. Through tours, recordings and broadcasting, it reached international fame under the direction of Dawson, who led the choir from 1931 to 1955. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Domino's relaxed-tempo, R&B version of "Blueberry Hill" was inspired by Louis Armstrong's rendition of the 1940 composition. The singer's New Orleans roots are evident in the Creole inflected cadences that add richness and depth to the performance. Recorded in Los Angeles for Imperial records, Domino insisted on performing the song despite the reservations of the producer of the session. The wisdom of this choice is borne out by the enduring association of the song with Domino, despite a number other popular renditions. Selected for the 2005 registry.
"Variations for Orchestra" by Elliot Carter is one of many works commissioned by the Louisville Orchestra under its Rockefeller Foundation-funded program to commission, premiere and record 20th century classical music. Premiering on April 21, 1956, with Robert S. Whitney conducting, "Variations for Orchestra" was recorded the next month. From 1954 through 1959, the Louisville Orchestra commissioned and performed 116 works from 101 composers, issuing 125 long-playing discs on its First Edition Recordings label, the first recording label owned by an American orchestra. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Folklorist Edward D. “Sandy” Ives, author of “The Tape-Recorded Interview” and many other influential publications, met with 75-year-old Billy Bell in 1956 and discovered the northwoods singing style. These occupational songs of lumbering, driving and woods traditions, based on British broadside ballads, were sung by second-generation Canadian-Irish workers who originally came from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia farms and were part of the Maine lumbering workforce. Ives’ initial interview with Bell was his first encounter with these narrative songs and singing styles that illuminated a tradition extending from Maine to Minnesota and Newfoundland to northern Ontario. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Ella Fitzgerald, "The First Lady of Song," will be long appreciated for her beautiful voice, thoughtful lyric interpretation, imaginative scat singing, and impeccable enunciation. The Cole Porter Song Book, a two-LP set, is the first of her many anthologies devoted to the pantheon of American popular song composers and lyricists. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Chuck Berry has been described as "the closest one to have invented Rock and Roll." As a composer he is responsible for many of early rock music's best compositions. His recorded songs feature his influential, driving guitar work and clever lyrics. Berry's music was a witty challenge to contemporary pop music, and in this instance, the classics as well. "Roll Over Beethoven" has been covered by many bands including the Beatles, who along with the Rolling Stones, have always acknowledged their debt to Chuck Berry. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Thelonious Monk displays his compositional genius and idiosyncratic, but indeed, brilliant, piano style in the monumental Brilliant Corners of 1956. Monk's thorny and challenging original pieces would form a basis of the modern jazz repertoire. They are brought to life with the assistance of Ernie Henry, alto sax; Sonny Rollins, tenor sax; Oscar Pettiford, bass; Max Roach, drums; Clark Terry, trumpet; and Paul Chambers, bass. Selected for the 2003 registry.
The original cast recording of “My Fair Lady” marks a high point in almost every aspect of the collaborations that produced it. It boasts a magnificent score by lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe—witty, intelligent, beautiful, and romantic. Brilliantly orchestrated by Robert Russell Bennett and Philip J. Lang, it captures landmark performances by Julie Andrews, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway. The recording itself was wonderfully produced under the supervision of prescient producer Goddard Lieberson, who convinced Columbia to underwrite most of the costs of the original production. Columbia’s initial investment of $360,000 generated tens of millions of dollars in profit. The recording established a new relationship between Broadway productions and record companies; the album’s critical success and popularity with the public were unrivaled at the time. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Jerry Lee Lewis' second release for Sun Records included this lively number that launched the performer to international popularity. A reworking of an R&B single penned by Roy Hall (aka Sunny David) and Dave Williams, Lewis radically altered the original, adding a propulsive boogie piano that was perfectly complemented by the drive of J.M. Van Eaton's energetic drumming. The listeners to the recording, like Lewis himself, had a hard time remaining seated during the performance. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Buddy Holly had actually recorded an earlier version of this song with a more country-and-western feel than the hit version that Brunswick records released. In an era when performers were not necessarily songwriters, Buddy Holly and the Crickets wrote most of their own material, including this number. Holly's fellow songwriters were drummer Jerry Allison and bassist Joe B. Mauldin who also provided an excellent rhythm section for the group. Selected for the 2005 registry.
What may be the only recordings of this deeply sacred Navajo healing ceremony were recorded by ethnomusicologist David McAllester in Arizona in the late 1950's. McAllester's recordings of the Shootingway ceremony, one of the most complex in the Navajo ceremonial system, includes the nine day ceremonial event as well as detailed discussions about preparations, procedures, sacred paraphernalia, as well as the reciting of all of the prayers and singing of all of the songs in order. In addition to the Shootingway recordings, McAllester's collection includes eight different versions of the lengthy Blessingway ceremony, several other traditional ceremonies, and many examples of contemporary genres in which he was also interested. The collection is housed at Wesleyan University where it is the core of the World Music Archives. Selected for the 2007 registry.
O. Winston Link, a commercial photographer, was a passionate admirer of trains. His well-known photographic essays documented the rich history of steam locomotives. Link also captured sounds and moving images of these trains. His first album of recordings, released in 1957, includes the sounds of Y6, K2, and J class locomotives, and a J 603 locomotive passing as church bells play Christmas carols. Link's recordings captured the unique and now-lost sounds of the engines which united the United States. Selected for the 2003 registry.
In the late 1950s, John Culshaw, a producer for the English Decca label, attempted the most ambitious recording project to that time–a complete studio recording of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen on stereo LP. This landmark nineteen-disc series features the Vienna Philharmonic, under the direction of the authoritative Wagner conductor, Sir Georg Solti. Among the many superb vocal performances recorded for this Ring are those of Birgit Nilsson and Kirsten Flagstad. The series is credited with bringing Wagner's masterpieces into the homes of many Americans who had never visited an opera house. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Bandleader/instrumentalist Tito Puente is considered to be a Renaissance man of Latin music. The best of New York City's 1950s Latin jazz scene is heard on this landmark album of 1958. Selected for the 2002 registry.
The association between the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one of the best known choral organizations in the United States, and the Philadelphia Orchestra dates to 1936. This best-selling recording of Handel's oratorio was made during a 1958 choir concert tour. It features Eileen Farrell, Martha Lipton, William Warfield and Cunningham Davis. Selected for the 2004 registry
The Eastman Wind Ensemble, one of the finest such ensembles to record, gave its first performance in 1953, the same year they began a series of 24 recordings for Mercury's Living Presence label. Their recordings jump-started the American concert wind band movement. This album features works by Percy Grainger, Bernard Rogers, Darius Milhaud, and Richard Strauss. Grainger often commented that he considered this the definitive recording of his composition, Lincolnshire Posy. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Described by composer Joel Chadabe as "the ultimate statement of tape music as musique concrete," this work premiered in the Philips pavilion designed by famed architect Le Corbusier for the 1958 Brussels Exposition. The work incorporated innumerable recorded sounds – voices, sirens, bells, tone generators – that were all heard by visitors to the pavilion from 425 loudspeakers positioned throughout the hall. The speakers allowed the sound to be moved through the space in interesting patterns that clashed with or complemented an array of projected images. The Columbia release (ML 5148) used the actual tapes that Edgard Varese employed in the original performance. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Spawned by the "Cool Jazz" movement, Time Out is an album both accessible and musically and rhythmically sophisticated. "Take Five,"composed by the Quartet's saxophonist Paul Desmond, has an unforgettable melody but is written in 5/4 time. "Blue Rondo a la Turk," which Brubeck claimed to be inspired by Turkish music he heard while on tour, is in the challenging 9/8 meter, but a generation of listeners would instantly recognize it. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Jazz bassist and bandleader Charles Mingus is recognized today as one of the finest jazz composers in history. His genius as a composer, exemplified in "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," "Fables of Faubus," "Better Git It in Your Soul," and "Jelly Roll," from this album, combines elements of gospel, blues, New Orleans jazz, swing, bop, Latin music, modern classical music, and avant-garde jazz. Selected for the 2003 registry.
John Coltrane's lightning-fast runs on this debut recording for Atlantic Records have been described by writer Ira Gitler as "sheets of sound." In characteristic fashion, Coltrane plays phrases forward, backwards and upside down, exhausting the possible permutations of a motive before proceeding. These fast runs signal Coltrane's movement away from a chordal approach to jazz in favor of a more scalar approach. Giant Steps contains seven original compositions by Coltrane, many of which have become jazz standards. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Many consider this recording to be one of the most important jazz recordings of any era. Miles Davis, trumpeter and composer, and a superb ensemble of musicians, including John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, and Bill Evans, created a highly-influential modal jazz masterpiece which was a best-selling album. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Documenting the street sounds of New York City has been a passion for Tony Schwartz since 1945, when he bought a wire recorder and started to collect the sounds of the world around him. Since then his audio archive has become one of the most significant collections of the sounds of everyday life, including voices, street sounds, and music. "New York Taxi Driver" comprises conversations and stories recorded with taxi drivers while riding in their cabs during the 1950s. A creator of advertisements and public service announcements, Schwartz also produced the first anti-smoking ad and the famous "daisy ad" used in President Lyndon Johnson's campaign in 1964. Selected for the 2003 registry.
This rhythm and blues hit combined the call-and response structure of the church with the sexually charged message of the blues. A highly acclaimed singer, pianist, arranger, and songwriter, Charles's synthesis of soul, R&B, country, and pop makes him one of the most influential musical figures of the 20th century. Selected for the 2002 registry.
“Howl,” Ginsberg’s most famous poem, was an experiment in the invention of a new style of poetry, one based not on “little short-line patterns,” but one using “the formal organization of the long line” and employing vivid visual impressions and chaotic phrasing to be delivered in one long breath. Particularly effective were Ginsberg’s relatively unemotional delivery of the passionate language and the frequent anger of a literary work that describes the history of the Beat Generation as well as his personal history, filled with anti-establishment rage. When “Howl” was first published in 1956, it was banned for obscenity and became a celebrated legal case among defenders of the First Amendment. Ginsberg appears on this recording at a 1959 Chicago “Big Table” reading presented by the Shaw Society in Chicago, Ill. Selected for the 2006 registry.
The debut album of singer, songwriter and guitarist Elizabeth Cotten was released when she was over 60 years old. A self-taught guitarist, her expressive two-finger picking style was enormously influential on folk song guitarists. Cotten was a popular performer during the folk music revival of the 1960s and a major inspiration to many aspiring musicians of the time. Cotten, who wrote “Freight Train” at the age of 12, was inspired by living next to the railroad tracks. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Bob Newhart introduced his fresh, new style of deceptively satiric comedy to audiences with this recording in 1960. “The Button-Down Mind” is the first collection of Newhart’s subtle, archly understated, humorous monologues that often represent a one-sided dialog with an unheard partner delivered in his characteristically deadpan style. His humor focuses on an average guy trying to hold on to his composure under some of the most unusual predicaments imaginable. Like Jack Benny, Newhart uses significant pauses to achieve heightened humorous effects. This recording contains his comedy classic, “The Driving Instructor,” where he shines in a one-sided monologue as the instructor of the most dangerous and inept driving student ever to get behind the wheel of a car. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Nigerian drummer Michael Babatunde Olatunji came to the United States in the early 1960's and released popular and influential drumming albums. Musicians as varied as Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, and Carlos Santana have all noted Olatunji's virtuosity or counted him as an influence. Drums of Passion features traditional Nigerian drumming with Western choral arrangements in songs written by Olatunji. It was many Americans' first exposure to Nigerian drumming. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Patsy Cline is considered one of the greatest country music singers and an inspiration to many contemporary female vocalists. "Crazy," a perfect vehicle to showcase Cline's poignant, heartbreaking voice and suburb musicanship, also demonstrates the song-writing prowess of Willie Nelson. It is an excellent example of the urbane Nashville Sound, which became popular in country music after the rise of rock and roll. Selected for the 2003 registry.
John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States on January 20, 1961, a bitterly cold and snowy day in Washington. The youngest person ever elected to the presidency and the first Roman Catholic, his inaugural address spoke of the "New Frontier" and declared to the nation, "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." Kennedy had invited noted poet, Robert Frost, to take part in the ceremony as well. Frost wrote a poem, "Dedication," for the event but, due to the sun's glare on the snow, was unable to read all of it. Instead, Frost movingly recited from memory, "The Gift Outright," a poem he had written years earlier. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Judy Garland's singing and acting career spanned vaudeville to movies, radio, and television. She was revered for her musical strengths and personal vulnerabilities. This live concert recording exemplifies her ability to form an intimate relationship with the audience and includes a moving performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" from the Wizard of Oz. Selected for the 2003 registry.
From 1952 to 1997, Studs Terkel hosted a radio program featuring interviews with a broad variety of performing artists, writers, poets, playwrights, historians, political commentators, activists and people who in other circumstances might be termed average Americans. He has long been recognized as an outstanding interviewer and practitioner of oral history. His skills extend beyond getting others to talk candidly about themselves to producing revealing interchanges that illuminate and inform about creativity, commitment and life in the United States. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Three months before his death, in one of his last public appearances, William Faulkner spent two days as a guest lecturer at West Point, where he read from his novel "The Reivers" and participated in a question-and-answer session with the press and public. Recorded and transcribed by two English professors at the Academy, Joseph L. Fant III and Robert Ashley, Faulkner is extremely candid, lucid and generous. Among the subjects he discusses are Hemingway, Dreiser, race relations and the future of the South and the purpose of literature. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This enormously successful gospel recording influenced many later groups and remains an excellent example of gospel performance. Rev. Cleveland, a protege of Thomas A. Dorsey and Roberta Martin, was himself a pioneer gospel recording artist, the first to make a 'live' gospel album and one of the developers of modern gospel. Peace Be Still features keyboardist Billy Preston and the Angelic Choir of Nutley, New Jersey. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Dr. King's address is considered a landmark event in the African-American struggle against discrimination and racism. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This album is considered by some to be the most important collection of original songs to be issued in the 1960s. It includes "Blowin' in the Wind," the popular and powerful protest anthem of the 1960s. Dylan's lyrics, music, and performing style make him a highly-influential figure in the urban folk-music revival of the 1960s and 1970s, whose work remains significant and influential. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This instantly recognizable performance popularized the melodic, samba-based, Brazilian bossa nova sound in the U.S. Guitarist and song composer Antonio Carlos Jobim teamed with saxophonist Stan Getz and Joao's wife, vocalist Astrud Gilberto, to create this sensuous recording, featured on the best-selling LP, Getz/Gilberto. Selected for the 2004 registry.
This single is often cited as the quintessence of the “girl group” aesthetic of the early 1960s and is also one of the best examples of producer Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” style. Opening with Hal Blaine’s infectious and much imitated drumbeat, distinctive features of the song, all carefully organized by Spector, include castanets, a horn section, strings and the able vocals of Veronica (Ronnie) Bennett. Enhancing the already symphonic quality of the recording is Spector’s signature use of reverb. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Pete Seeger's Carnegie Hall concert on June 8, 1963, was the culmination of his recent tour on behalf of civil rights. A hallmark of these concerts was his performance of "We Shall Overcome." First sung as a gospel song, "I Shall Overcome," and later used on labor picket lines, Seeger changed the opening word from "I" to "We," enlisting the song in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Seeger and many other musicians of the 1960s hoped that music would be a strong force in the struggle to eliminate injustice and heal divisions in our country. This live recording of his concert captures not only Seeger's masterful performance, but also the communal spirit of the folk revival movement. Selected for the 2006 registry.
In 1963 the United States Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force bands and choruses were engaged (by special permission) to make albums of American music which would be sold to help fund the National Cultural Center (later the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts). The Marine Band had just returned from an extensive tour of the U.S. and was in prime form. The resulting recording by Herman Diaz, Jr., the legendary producer for RCA Victor, is considered by many experts as one of the finest recordings in band history because of the incredible sound quality of the recording. Selected for the 2007 registry.
This rousing dance hit has been cited as one of the first examples of what would come to be known as the Motown sound. Written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, the song was turned down by another Motown act before Martha and the Vandellas performed it in the Motown studios. The group, which consisted of Martha Reeves, Rosalyn Ashford and Annette Beard, had alternated between singing backup for other Motown acts and working on their own material, but, after the success of this song, their career as a backup group was definitively ended. The African-American community would come to infuse the tune with political sentiments. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The last of Roy Orbison’s string of hits for Monument records, “Oh, Pretty Woman” was his most enduring recording. Orbison and co-writer Bill Dees tapped out the initial rhythm of the song while sitting at Orbison’s kitchen table. In the recorded version, this became the infectious and well-known opening guitar riff and propulsive drum beat. Artists as varied as Al Green, John Mayall and Van Halen have performed the song, and 2 Live Crew sampled the opening on their 1989 album, “As Clean as They Wanna Be.” That appropriation, made without authorization, led to a U. S. Supreme Court case (Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.), which ruled in 1994 that the commercial song parody qualified as fair use under Section 107 of the U. S. copyright law. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Initially released as a single in the United States, “Satisfaction” also appeared on the Rolling Stones’ 1965 album, Out of Our Heads. Guitarist Keith Richards claims to have woken up in the middle of the night with the famous fuzz-laden guitar riff in his head and immediately committed it to tape. Although he was ambivalent about the riff, he nonetheless presented it to vocalist Mick Jagger, who penned the song’s anti-commercial lyrics. Despite both Richards’ and Jagger’s feelings that the song should not be released, the other members of the Rolling Stones voted to release the song and it became a classic of rock ’n’ roll. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Sam Cooke, a central figure in the creation of soul music in the 1950s and 1960s, composed “A Change is Gonna Come” to express his impatience with the progress of civil equality in the United States. The song became an anthem of the civil rights movement in the United States. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This gem of 1960s soul music balladry was composed by singers Otis Redding and Jerry Butler. Redding's recording for Volt Records exemplifies the brilliance of his vocal expressiveness and the spare but powerful instrumental accompaniments of the much-acclaimed Stax/Volt studio musicians. Selected for the 2003 registry.
James Brown's best-selling Live at the Apollo remains significant for presenting his incandescent performances of "I'll Go Crazy," "Think" and "Night Train" with an airtight backup band. At the time of its release, none of Brown's studio albums had done justice to his dynamic performance style. With this album a wider audience became familiar with his unique style. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Bluesman B.B. King recorded this album at the Regal Theater in Chicago in 1964. The recording showcases King's inventive and emotional guitar style, which blends Delta blues with a rhythm and blues beat, spiking the combination with his "sliding note" style. The album, one of the first of an in-concert blues performance, documents King's intimate relationship with his audience. King, who has been called "The King of the Blues" and the "best blues artist of his generation," has been a primary influence on a number of artists, including Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Mike Bloomfield. Selected for the 2005 registry.
William “Smokey” Robinson wrote, produced and performed some of the sweetest, most poetic and enduring love songs in rhythm and blues history. “Tracks of My Tears” is highlighted by Robinson’s velvety high tenor voice and his heartbreaking lyrics. It captures the peak of Robinson’s talent. His smooth voice conveys the passion and pain required to maintain a false, happy exterior after a romantic breakup. He heightens the effect when he sweeps into his remarkable falsetto. The recording won numerous awards and is considered to be among the best recordings by the Miracles. “Tracks of My Tears” further emphasized the influence of Detroit soul on American popular music, a position attained by the recordings produced by Motown Records. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Departing from the Beach Boys surf-music roots, Pet Sounds was an emotive and carefully planned recording that attempted to present an album as a unified work and not merely a collection of singles. The album is notable for Brian Wilson's high lead vocals and the harmonizing support from the other band members. Equally compelling are the melodies and the arrangements, the latter featuring, among other instruments, horns, strings, theremin, accordion and a glockenspiel. It has proven the most complete statement of Wilson's musical and lyrical aesthetic. Paul McCartney has remarked on several occasions that it is his favorite album. Selected for the 2004 registry.
An actor known for his rich bass voice, Alexander Scourby began his career in New York as a Shakespearean stage actor, but was soon narrating television documentaries, hosting opera broadcasts, and providing voice-overs for commercials. Recording for the blind for over 40 years, his was the voice of great literature. He recorded the King James version of the Bible for the American Foundation for the Blind, taking four years to record all 66 books. It became a best seller when it was commercially released in 1966. Selected for the 2004 registry.
The first recording in the celebrated Nonesuch Explorer Series, “Music from the Morning of the World” was one of the first attempts to offer “international music” and, in particular, ethnic field recordings as entertainment for commercial recording listeners. The series exposed listeners to new musical idioms and non-Western classical music, and set high standards for recording quality and accompanying written documentation. “Music from the Morning of the World” provided many listeners with their first exposure to Balinese gamelan music and the unforgettably compelling “monkey chant.” Selected for the 2007 registry.
Performer and educator Ella Jenkins has been leading children on musical journeys around the world for more than 50 years. Her call-and-response songs, and gentle soothing voice, encourage children to join in and sing along, overcoming any shyness or reluctance they might have. Singing with Ella, children have learned songs from a variety of cultures and in many languages. Her vast repertoire of songs includes nursery rhymes, folk songs and chants as well as her own original songs. In keeping with the policy of its record label, Folkways, “You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song” has remained in print since it was first published in 1966. Selected for the 2007 registry.
The Beatles were undoubtedly the most successful and significant rock group in history. Their 1967 concept album, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, is a compilation of twelve unforgettable songs, each masterfully arranged. The songs embrace a myriad of divergent styles yet, through the collective genius of these musicians, they are melded into a cohesive whole. The album makes use of novel studio techniques in creating an enchanting musical experience which transcends genre. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin successfully integrated elements of her gospel background with pop tunes to create numerous gold records, including the perennial hit, "Respect," composed by Otis Redding. Selected for the 2002 registry.
For decades this album has cast a huge shadow over nearly every sub-variety of avant-garde rock, from 1970s art-rock to No Wave, New Wave and Punk. Referring to their sway over the rock music of the ‘70s and ‘80s, critic Lester Bangs stated, “Modern music starts with the Velvets, and the implications and influence of what they did seem to go on forever.” Otherworldly vocals by the international model and actress Nico appear on three of the songs. John Cale’s hard-edged electric viola playing adds an eerie quality to singer and guitarist Lou Reed’s frank lyrical depictions of sex and addiction. Percussionist Maureen Tucker and guitarist Sterling Morrison make additional noteworthy contributions. Selected for the 2006 registry.
This 1967 release remains not only one of the quintessential statements of psychedelic rock but also has proved to be one of the most groundbreaking guitar albums of the rock era. Hendrix's playing, while strongly rooted in the blues, also incorporated a variety of jazz influences and a uniquely personal vocabulary of emotive guitar feedback and extended solos. Including such classics as "Purple Haze," "Hey Joe" and "The Wind Cries Mary," the album featured the able rhythm section of Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums. It is difficult to overstate the enormous influence that Hendrix's recordings have had on subsequent guitarists. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Frank Zappa's inventive and iconoclastic album presents a unique political stance, both anti-conservative and anti-counterculture, and features a scathing satire on hippiedom and America's reactions to it. The album art is a brilliant parody of the Beatles' sleeve design for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Zappa's radical audio editing and production techniques produced an eclectic blend of electronic, avant-garde and rock music that was influenced by composers such as Varese and Stravinsky, with pop melodies, virtuoso instrumental performances, verbal asides and sound effects that segue into a cohesive work. The result is an electronic sound collage that may be Zappa's definitive musical statement on America in the 1960s. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This meticulously recorded album introduced the Moog synthesizer to a much wider audience than it had previously reached. Many of the separate synthesizer voices on the album were recorded to tape individually and carefully mixed to create the final product. After the recording, Bob Moog's musical circuitry enjoyed an enormous boom. Within a decade the synthesizer was well established in the idioms of rock music, dance music and Western art music. Wendy Carlos went on to record several more well-crafted Bach recordings. Selected for the 2005 registry.
On this 'live' album, country and rockabilly pioneer Johnny Cash played directly to his "captive" audience with songs about imprisonment, separation, loneliness, salvation, crime, and death. As the concert progresses, artist and audience become collaborators in the enterprise, urging each other to greater levels of enthusiasm and release. At a time of great social upheaval, this album and its 1969 follow-up, Johnny Cash at San Quentin, showed Cash to be a performer with great compassion, humor, and charisma. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Regarded as the springboard for the development of contemporary gospel music, "Oh Happy Day" was based on a 19th century white hymn. Its popular music and jazz-influenced harmonies, infectious rhythms and use of instruments not often found on earlier gospel recordings have made the recording enduringly popular and influential. Originally recorded on a long-playing album, "Let Us Go into the House of the Lord," as a fund-raising effort for the Northern California State Youth Choir by director Edwin Hawkins, its compelling, exhilarating sound found its way onto radio playlists in San Francisco. Re-recorded under the name "Edwin Hawkins Singers," the song became an international crossover hit. Selected for the 2005 registry.
The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon had the world glued to its television set, yet the most enduring memories of the achievement are aural: "Houston. Tranquility base here. The Eagle has landed.... I'm going to step off the LEM now. That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." These words, first broadcast from the moon, have become some of the most recognizable and memorable sentences spoken in United States history. Selected for the 2004 registry.
This two-LP set introduced ragtime composer, performer and songwriter Eubie Blake to a new generation of listeners. The recorded musical autobiography featured his ragtime compositions from the early years of the 20th century and his musical theater pieces of the 1920s. In the recording, Blake is reunited with his partner of the 1920s, Noble Sissle. The recording captures the full range of Blake’s genius, his ebullient music and his infectious personality, and documents his enduring contributions to jazz and musical theater. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Ali Akbar College of Music (San Rafael, Calif.) provides an education in the classical music of North India. Ali Akbar Khan, internationally recognized sarode maestro, and Swapan Chaudhuri, tabla maestro, are the primary instructors. The college's archive contains unique, historic sound recordings, many in early stages of deterioration. A group of ten recorded concerts of particular value, as selected by the College's staff, includes rare performances by some of northern India's foremost musicians, such as Allauddin Khan, Kishan Maharaj, Nikhil Banerjee, and Alla Rakha. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Firesign Theatre, the Los Angeles-based comedy group, started on radio station KPFK in 1966 and began producing comedy records in 1968. Don't crush that dwarf was recorded in 1970, utilizing many sophisticated production techniques for the first time on a comedy album, including 16-track recording and Dolby noise reduction. The technology, enlisted in service of the ensemble's creativity, enabled the use of surreal sound effects and layered storytelling to create an album of far more than individual comedy sketches. "Dwarf "is a one-act play that satirizes radio and television programs to comment on political, social and literary topics of its day, remaining funny decades later. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This poem, first released on Gil Scott-Heron's first album, Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, served as a rallying cry to black America and proved a foreshadowing of the more politically active strains of rap music. Having published a novel before he switched to a career as a recording artist, Scott-Heron's street poetry proved uncompromising in its vision. Flutist Hubert Laws accompanied Scott-Heron's spoken and sung pieces. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This classic 'live' performance of southern blues rock contains a powerfully emotional rendition of "Whipping Post" sung by Gregg Allman. That song became a touring standard for the band while the album received wide acclaim for its lengthy improvisational jams featuring the distinctive dual lead guitars of Duane Allman and Dickie Betts. Selected for the 2004 registry.
A masterful stylist of sophisticated soul, Marvin Gaye helped promote the Motown sound throughout the 1960s. Many of his vocal collaborations with Tammi Terrell (written by Ashford and Simpson) led the rhythm and blues charts. His 1971 concept album, What's Goin' On, explored deeply held spiritual beliefs and social commentary on cultural events of the day. This self-written, self-produced, concept album was an abrupt departure from previous Motown releases and became a huge commercial success. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Composer Carole King wrote many early rock and roll classic hits and became a successful solo recording artist with her 1971 album, Tapestry. It established King as a premier and influential force for female singer-songwriters and stayed on the charts for over 300 weeks. Her earlier compositions, written with Gerry Goffin, include "Up on the Roof," "One Fine Day," "The Locomotion," and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." Selected for the 2003 registry.
Babbitt's Philomel was commissioned by the Ford Foundation for the noted soprano Bethany Beardslee. It is an outstanding example of an early synthesizer composition. Selected for the 2002 registry.
In “For the Roses,” Joni Mitchell took the confessional lyrics of her critically-acclaimed “Blue” album and infused them with touches of jazz. The result is a mélange of folk, rock, jazz and country that retains the heartfelt tone of her earlier work, but presents it on a broader canvas. While Mitchell later delved more deeply into jazz, “For the Roses” remains the album in which all the elements of her creative palette are in perfect balance. Selected for the 2007 registry
In the late 19th century, Kewaunee, Wis., one of the great maritime ports of the northern Great Lakes, sought to challenge Chicago as Lake Michigan's supreme port city. Its car ferry and rail loading tracks were constructed in 1891 within a vast program of harbor improvements toward this goal. The port's original fog signal was removed in 1981 when an automated signal was installed. Improved rail connections to other cities led to the ultimate decline of the port; Kewaunee's aspirations were short lived. This recording preserves lost sounds of the once bustling northern lake port. Selected for the 2005 registry.
For Will the Circle Be Unbroken, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, previously known for their country-rock and jug band music, brought together a stellar group of musical giants of country music for an unprecedented collaboration. The recordings, made in Nashville, showcased traditional songs and country music classics with guest performances by Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Martin, Maybelle Carter, Merle Travis and Earl Scruggs. The resulting three-LP set introduced acoustic country music to a new generation of audiences and revived the careers of several of the guest performers. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This collection of tapes in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation Archive contains an outstanding array of interviews, live concert recordings, and radio broadcasts of New Orleans musicians including Clifton Chenier, Professor Longhair, Queen Ida, and others, from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Selected for the 2002 registry.
This 1973 release was the last album Reggae master Bob Marley released under the name “The Wailers” and featured the final performances of Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer with the group. While the group was rhythmically tight, Marley's role on this album is predominant. The album covers a variety of topics and moods from the militancy of “Get Up Stand Up” and “I Shot the Sheriff" to the heartfelt rage and poverty-induced despair of “Burnin’ and Lootin.” The final track, the traditional “Rastaman Chant” sounds a more redemptive note. These themes continued in Marley's work after he left the earlier Wailers lineup and became an internationally acclaimed artist. Selected for the 2006 registry.
“Headhunters” is a pivotal work of Herbie Hancock’s career. It was his first true fusion recording. Possessing all the sensibilities of jazz, but with R&B and funk soul rhythms, “Headhunters” had a mass appeal that made it the greatest-selling jazz album in history at the time of its release. The recording is notable for its use of an extremely wide range of instruments, including electric synthesizers which brought that new instrument to the forefront of jazz for the first time. Hancock’s experiments caused controversy among jazz purists, many of whom at the time belittled it as “pop.” “Headhunters” proved to be influential not only to jazz, but also to funk, soul and hip-hop. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Captivating performances by singer-composer-writer Sarah Vaughan, who Gunther Schuller once called “the greatest vocal artist of our century,” are preserved in this two-LP set. The 1973 recording is an excellent example of Sarah Vaughan’s range of talents: her stunning virtuosity, glorious instrument, heartfelt interpretations, and ease of performing before a live audience. It features several signature tunes that are associated with Vaughan, including “Summertime” and “Poor Butterfly.” Live in Japan was produced relatively late in Vaughan’s career and illustrates that, unlike most singers, Vaughan’s voice seemed to grow richer, stronger and more versatile as she aged. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Composer of many enduring gospel classics, Thomas A. Dorsey is considered to be the Father of Gospel Music. The recording features Dorsey's account of his life, as well as contemporary performances of his greatest works. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Garrison Keillor, writer and humorist, began broadcasting his radio variety program, A Prairie Home Companion, for Minnesota Public Radio in 1974. Keillor weaves together a show featuring regional humor, musical guests, comical advertisements for imaginary products, and the extraordinary monologs about his fictional creation, Lake Wobegon, Minnesota. Thirty years after its inception, the radio variety program is heard on more than 500 public radio stations. Selected for the 2003 registry.
Singer and songwriter Bruce Springsteen, whose live performances are renowned for their energy and passion, burst onto the rock scene in the early 1970s, a time when many believed that rock was in need of new lifeblood. Billed early in his career as "the next Bob Dylan," his music evolved into a unique synthesis of early rock and roll, blues, rhythm and blues, folk, gospel, and country. Though Born to Run was Springsteen's third LP, it was the first in which he fully realized the sound that would earn him the title of "the Boss." Not coincidentally, it was also his first album to feature the revamped lineup of the dynamic E Street Band featuring saxophone player Clarence Clemons, second guitarist "Miami" Steve Van Zandt, organist Danny Federici, pianist Roy Bittan, bassist Garry Tallent, and drummer Max Weinberg. In addition to the title song, the album contains such Springsteen anthems as "Thunder Road," "Backstreets," and "She's the One." Selected for the 2003 registry.
The All-Stars are the house band of Fania Records, one of the U.S.'s most significant Latin music record labels. The All-Stars popularized New York City Salsa during the 1970s, through their concerts at the Red Garter in Greenwich Village, Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, and Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This two-LP set features top salsa singers Celia Cruz, Hector Lavoe, Cheo Feliciano, Ismael Miranda, Justo Betancourt, Ismael Quintana, Pete "Conde" Rodriguez, Bobby Cruz, and Santos Colon, backed by a host of great salsa musicians. Selected for the 2003 registry.
In addition to Stevie Wonder's impeccable musicianship, this album features contributions from Nathan Watts (bass), Raymond Pounds (drums), Greg Phillinganes (keyboards), Ben Bridges and Mike Sembello (guitar) and a guest appearance by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. To produce the album, Wonder and the group worked in the studio relentlessly for two years, occasionally logging sessions of 48 hours straight. These efforts paid off with a number of excellent jazz, blues and gospel-influenced songs, including "I Wish" and "Pastime Paradise." The album also includes the Duke Ellington tribute "Sir Duke," in which Wonder acknowledges his debt to the African-American musical tradition. Selected for the 2005 registry.
This collection of over 1,000 radio broadcast recordings, the majority penned by Ronald Reagan himself, documents the development of his political vision in the years immediately preceding his election to the White House. In the broadcasts Reagan sounded what would become the familiar themes of his presidency: reduction of government spending, tax cuts, supply-side economics and anti-communism. These radio “chats” did not focus on specific policy prescriptions, as much as outlining a conservative governing philosophy, much of which remains with the Republican Party to this day. Also showcased is Reagan’s conversational, folksy rhetorical style, which added measurably to his public appeal. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Never released to the public, this disc was prepared to introduce aurally our planet to any alien intelligence that might encounter the Voyager spacecraft many millions of years in the future. The disc contains encoded photographs, spoken messages, music and sounds. There are greetings delivered from around the world in 55 languages. The sound essay includes life sounds (EEGs and EKGs), birds, elephants, whales, volcanoes, rain and a baby. The 90 minutes of music features selections from ragas, Navajo Indian chants, Java court gamelan, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, a Peruvian Woman’s Wedding song, and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Selected for the 2007 registry.
This soundtrack score has been credited with reviving symphonic film scores in Hollywood motion pictures. The recording was a best-seller, its themes well remembered and often quoted. When the blockbuster motion picture was released in 1977, home video did not exist. It was the soundtrack recording which enabled audiences to evoke images from the film in their living rooms. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Michael Jackson’s second album with legendary producer Quincy Jones attained stratospheric national and international success. Featuring outstanding performances by Paul McCartney on “The Girl is Mine” and a metallic Eddie Van Halen guitar lead on “Beat It,” the album’s influence on the record industry and subsequent popular music is immeasurable. The album also includes the strong disco-inflected “Billie Jean” and the compelling title track “Thriller,” featuring an eerie voice-over by Vincent Price. Jackson’s keen pop sensibilities, performances by a wide range of talented musicians and Quincy Jones’ expert production all contributed to making “Thriller” the best-selling all time. Selected for the 2007 registry.
Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five was a pivotal group in the early days of rap, developing crucial aspects of the genre. Their 1982 hit, "The Message," is significant because of its focus on urban social issues--a course followed by many later rappers. Selected for the 2002 registry.
Katharine B. Payne's recordings of Asian elephants revealed that the animals use infrasonic sounds to communicate with one another. Such acoustic monitoring of the mammals has provided important insights into the mechanisms by which matrilineal groups of elephants maintain distance among one another over time and how males locate receptive females. In addition, the use of recordings has proven a very effective method for surveying populations of elephants. It has opened new windows into the complex lives of elephants and provided a tool for conservation. The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at Cornell University holds this important collection of recordings. Selected for the 2004 registry.
Graceland, Paul Simon not only incorporated a great number of musical styles, including Zydeco, Tex-Mex and African vocal music, but he also showcased the talents of many accomplished musicians. The recording features Linda Ronstadt, Adrian Belew, Los Lobos, the Everly Brothers and Youssou N’dour. It is probably best known for Simon’s collaboration with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. “Graceland” fueled that group’s rise to international fame. Selected for the 2006 registry.
Pioneer members of New York City's clangorous early 1980s No Wave scene, Sonic Youth are renowned for a glorious form of noise-based chaos. Guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo had previously performed with Glenn Branca's large guitar ensembles, and their alternative guitar tunings and ringing harmonies attest to this apprenticeship. On Daydream Nation, their breakthrough album, the group's forays into outright noise always return to melodic songs that employ hypnotic arpeggios, driving punk rock rhythmic figures and furious gales of guitar-based noise. Bassist Kim Gordon's haunting vocals and edgy lyrics add additional depth to the numbers she sings. Selected for the 2005 registry.
Fear of a Black Planet brought hip-hop respect from critics, millions of new fans, and passionate debate over its political content.The album signaled the coupling of a strongly political message with hip hop music. Its hit single, "Fight the Power," was the theme for Spike Lee's powerful film, Do the Right Thing. Public Enemy forged a new sound for hip hop that included funk rhythms, samples from James Brown and Eric Clapton, and found sounds. Selected for the 2004 registry.
This surprising chartbuster from a grunge band from Aberdeen, Washington brought to the public's attention a new, heavily distorted sound that would catch on and prove an enduring influence in rock. Characterized by raw vocals, driving rhythms and surprising shifts in dynamics, the record resonated with America's youth and climbed to number one on the Billboard charts, selling over 10 million copies. Selected for the 2004 registry.