Landmark Janet Jackson, Nas, Jimmy Cliff Recordings Enter National Recording Registry

Louis Armstrong, Labelle and Jackson Browne are also represented this year.

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Photo: Lia Toby/BFC/Getty Images

Iconic recordings from Janet Jackson, Louis Armstrong, Marlo Thomas, Kool & the Gang, Labelle, Connie Smith, Nas, Phil Rizzuto, Jimmy Cliff and Kermit the Frog are among the latest aural treasures inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has named these and 15 other recordings as worthy of preservation this year, picked because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic importance to America’s sound heritage.

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All recordings have to be at least 10 years old to be eligible and this year, the selections span the years 1878 (a tinfoil recording of the voice of Thomas Edison) to 2008 (an episode of This American Life, marking the first podcast recording to be so honored in the 23-year history of the registry).

Songs on the list include Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” Smith’s “Once a Day,” Kermit’s “The Rainbow Connection” and Iz Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.”

Albums from Janet Jackson (Rhythm Nation 1814, with four No. 1 singles), Nas (Illmatic), Jimmy Cliff (The Harder They Come), Marlo Thomas (Free to Be … You & Me), Albert King (Born Under a Bad Sign), Pat Metheny (Bright Size Life), Odetta (Odetta Sings Ballads and the Blues), Flaco Jiménez (Partners) and Jackson Browne (Late for the Sky) made the cut, too.

Here’s a chronological list of the selections entering the National Recording Registry in 2021:

Thomas Edison’s “St. Louis tinfoil” recording (1878)
“Nikolina,” Hjalmar Peterson (1917)
“Smyrneikos Balos,” Marika Papagika (1928)
“When the Saints Go Marching In,” Louis Armstrong & His Orchestra (1938)
Christmas Eve Broadcast — Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (Dec. 24, 1941)
The Guiding Light (Nov. 22, 1945)
Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, Odetta (1957)
“Lord, Keep Me Day by Day,” Albertina Walker and the Caravans (1959)
Roger Maris hits his 61st home run (Oct. 1, 1961)
Aida, Leontyne Price, and others (1962)
“Once a Day,” Connie Smith (1964)
Born Under a Bad Sign, Albert King (1967)
Free to Be … You & Me, Marlo Thomas and Friends (1972)
The Harder They Come, Jimmy Cliff (1972)
“Lady Marmalade,” Labelle (1974)
Late for the Sky, Jackson Browne (1974)
Bright Size Life, Pat Metheny (1976)
“The Rainbow Connection,” Kermit the Frog (1979)
“Celebration,” Kool & the Gang (1980)
Richard Strauss: Four Last Songs, Jessye Norman (1983)
Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson (1989)
Partners, Flaco Jiménez (1992)
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”/”What a Wonderful World” — Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (1993)
Illmatic, Nas (1994)
This American Life: “The Giant Pool of Money” (May 9, 2008)

Listen to the best of Janet Jackson here.

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