Thursday, May 24, 2012

LOC embraces gospel, classical, jazz, disco & funk

The Library of Congress has added an exquisitely diverse collection of 25 music and spoken-word selections to their "National Recording Registry," including signature pieces by Donna Summer, The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Dolly Parton, Bo Diddley, and Leonard Bernstein. In following up on the press release, I came across the Leonard Bernstein Online Collection at the Library's "American Memory" website. It makes available 85 photographs, 1,100 pieces of correspondence, 177 scripts from the influential Young People's Concerts, 74 scripts from the Thursday Evening Previews, and an in-depth article on Bernstein as a music educator ("Professor Lenny" by Joseph Horowitz, originally published in The New York Review of Books).  Above left: Bernstein conducting the NY Philharmonic in Cleveland, 1986. © Frances M. Barkas
So many of these selections deserve their own writeup (the slave narratives are a phenomenal item, and I've particularly wanted to research the Sweethearts of Rhythm, who were profiled on Fresh Air). The Grateful Dead live are cheek-by-jowl with 1930s chanteuse Ruth Etting and broadcast legend Edward R. Murrow. That's America for ya! This Washington Post blog has audio samples of many of the 25 Registry selections, which are also listed below. Enjoy!
  1. "Edison Talking Doll cylinder" (1888)
  2. "Come Down Ma Evenin’ Star," Lillian Russell (1912)
  3. "Ten Cents a Dance," Ruth Etting (1930)
  4. "Voices from the Days of Slavery," Various speakers (1932-1941 interviews; 2002 compilation)
  5. "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart," Patsy Montana (1935)
  6. "Fascinating Rhythm," Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Five (1938)
  7. "Artistry in Rhythm," Stan Kenton & and his Orchestra (1943)
  8. Debut performance with the New York Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein (Nov. 14, 1943)
  9. International Sweethearts of Rhythm: Hottest Women’s Band of the 1940s (1944-1946)
  10. "The Indians for Indians Hour" (March 25, 1947)
  11. "Hula Medley," Gabby Pahinui (1947)
  12. "I Can Hear It Now," Fred W. Friendly and Edward R. Murrow (1948)
  13. "Let’s Go Out to the Programs," The Dixie Hummingbirds (1953)
  14. "Also Sprach Zarathustra," Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1954, 1958)
  15. "Bo Diddley" and "I’m a Man," Bo Diddley (1955)
  16. "Green Onions," Booker T. & the M.G.’s (1962)
  17. "Forever Changes," Love (1967)
  18. "The Continental Harmony: Music of William Billings," Gregg Smith Singers (1969)
  19. "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Vince Guaraldi Trio (1970)
  20. "Coat of Many Colors," Dolly Parton (1971)
  21. "Mothership Connection," Parliament (1975)
  22. Barton Hall concert by the Grateful Dead (May 8, 1977)
  23. "I Feel Love," Donna Summer (1977)
  24. "Rapper's Delight," Sugarhill Gang (1979)
  25. "Purple Rain," Prince and the Revolution (1984)
Contact sheet from the LOC digital Bernstein collection


  1. Definitely was NOT expecting to see "Rapper's Delight" or "Purple Rain" on this list. That's awesome! What a great variety.

  2. This is great to know about! I love the variety of music represented. I have been to the LOC's American Folklife Center, which has an amazing collection of grassroots music and folklore recordings also: If you have a free afternoon and music history interests you, go and check it out!

    1. You could get lost in just this one site!

    2. Great site, Eva! Looooove folk music more than most anything else in the world. Awesome find!

  3. I really love the Leonard Bernstein photo collection, The library of congress rules. I especially love the family holiday photo's of the Bernstein Clan, really put a human face on a true American Icon.