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Library of Congress enshrines treasured Hawaiian songs

By Star-Advertiser & news services

POSTED: 08:17 a.m. HST, May 25, 2012

Hawaiian slack-key and steel guitar songs were among 25 sound recordings newly enshrined in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry, library officials said.

Gabby Pahinui's  "Hula Medley" and "Fascinating Rhythm" by steel and electric guitar artist Sol Hoopii and his Novelty Five will be preserved as "cultural, artistic and/or historical treasures."

They join Donna Summer's throbbing 1977 hit "I Feel Love"; Prince's 1984 "Purple Rain" album; the first known commercial sound recording, dating to 1888; the Sugar Hill Gang's watershed rap record "Rapper's Delight"; 1930s and '40s news reports and speech excerpts from journalist Edward R. Murrow's "I Can Hear It Now" radio program and other recordings in the registry.

"America's sound heritage is an important part of the nation's history and culture and this year's selections reflect the diversity and creativity of the American experience," Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said in a statement.

Pahinui's 1947 recording of "Hula Medley" was among the first modern recordings of Hawaiian slack key guitar. Hoopii was cited for his role in spreading steel guitar from Hawaiian music to ragtime, jazz and pop. Hoopii and his peers in the 1920s and 1930s also influenced blues and country slide guitarists, the Library of Congress said.

Other new entries include Dolly Parton's 1971 hit "Coat of Many Colors"; Parliament's 1975 funk classic "Mothership Connection"; Stan Kenton and His Orchestra's 1943 recording of "Artistry in Rhythm"; and Leonard Bernstein's debut performance conducting the New York Philharmonic, also from 1943. Plus, the new registrees include field recordings with the voices of former slaves made from 1932 to 1941; Bo Diddley's "I'm a Man" and "Bo Diddley," both from 1955, and Booker T. & the MGs' 1962 soul instrumental "Green Onions."

The latest batch of inductees expands the registry's total to 350 recordings which span the history of recorded sound. The recordings must be at least 10 years old to be eligible. A full list of this year's songs chosen for the registry can be found on the library's website. Each year, 25 recordings are added to the registry. The public can nominate recordings at www.loc.gov/nrpb.

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