News & Politics

DC Native Kermit the Frog Added to the National Recording Registry

Janet Jackson, Nas, Kool & the Gang, Ira Glass, and others will also join the Library of Congress's list of American recorded treasures.

Photograph courtesy Library of Congress.

On Wednesday, the Library of Congress announced the 25 new recordings and songs that it will add to its National Recording Registry, including the first podcast (This American Life), first frog (Kermit, played by Jim Henson), and audio that Thomas Edison captured on tinfoil in 1878. The collection, which now holds 575 titles, highlights these selections as “audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage,” the library said in a press release.

The registry started in 2002 with a mission to preserve music and recordings that are crucial to the country’s history and culture that are at least ten years old. While the library considers public nominations, ultimately the decisions are up to LOC curators and the National Recording Preservation Board.

Labelle performing “Lady Marmalade.” Photograph courtesy Library of Congress.

Another major track added to the list: Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, the 1989 dance-pop protest anthem that was a very popular vote in the registry’s public nomination process. Her lyrics about police brutality, social justice, and racism still resonate today.

Kermit the Frog, who got his start on Jim Henson’s first puppet show Sam and Friends on the Washington channel WRC-TV in 1955, will now be memorialized for “The Rainbow Connection.” Adding the first podcast, the registry will include a 2008 episode of This American Life, hosted by Ira Glass, that explains the mortgage crisis at the time. Other artists to join the registry include Louis Armstrong (“When the Saints Go Marching In”), Patti LaBelle’s trio Labelle (“Lady Marmalade”), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World”) Nas (Illmatic), and Kool & the Gang (“Celebration”).

A close-up of Thomas Edison’s tinfoil. Photograph courtesy Library of Congress.

According to the LOC, Thomas Edison’s recording is possibly the “oldest playable recording of an American voice and the earliest known recording of a musical performance.” It’s a 78-second clip that was recorded on a phonograph in St. Louis back in 1878.

You can listen to a playlist of the registry’s newly added recordings here.

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Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.