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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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1040 Abroad

US Library of Congress Inductees Announced

Janet Jackson, Winston Churchill, and The Muppets on the list for preservation
By News Team
Published on April 1, 2021

Library of Congress Library of Congress, Washington DC Photo: Pierre Blaché

The US Library of Congress admits just 25 recordings to its Recording Registry every year. These works, which are seen to have historical and/or cultural significance are then preserved for posterity.

Among the inductees for the year of 2020, announced on March 24, 2021, are Winston Churchill, Janet Jackson, and The Muppets, as well as Nas' iconic debut, 'Illmatic', Labelle's 'Lady Marmalade' and Louis Armstrong's 1938 recording of 'When the Saints Go Marching In'.

Churchill is included for his speech at the White House on Christmas Eve 1941, less than three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor dragged America into the Second World War.

Broadcast around the world, the speech was a plea to put the horrors of war on pause during Christmas.

The British prime minister said: "Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us."

Janet Jackson's 1989 album Rhythm Nation 1814 is one of the newest records to be added to the registry this year.

The Library of Congress recognized how the pop star had rejected pressure to repeat the commercial success of her previous record, Control, and instead made a record that grappled with racism, homelessness, gun crime and social injustice.

"We wanted Rhythm Nation to really communicate empowerment," Jackson's producer Jimmy Jam told the Library of Congress. "It was making an observation, but it was also a call to action. Janet's purpose was to lead people and do it through music, which I think is the ultimate uniter of people."

Kermit The Frog, meanwhile, enters the registry thanks to 'The Rainbow Connection', the 1979 single that has become The Muppets' unofficial theme song.

Composer Paul Williams has called the ballad a tribute to the spirit of Muppets' creator Jim Henson.

"What [co-writer Kenny Ascher and I] tapped into for Kermit is what we tapped into for Jim Henson; his mind, heart, and gentle soul," Williams told Vanity Fair in 2019. "I think it's his song as much as Kenny's, or mine, or Kermit's."

To see the full list of recordings and read about each one in detail, visit www.loc.gov

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