Louisiana Tunes in Library of Congress

Peek into the collection of an avid Louisiana music lover and you may find the country hit and official state song “You Are My Sunshine” sharing space with the Mardi Gras Indian anthem album Wild Tchoupitoulas. Now these two classic, if very different, examples of the Louisiana musical tradition are keeping company in the country’s most significant collection – the Library of Congress.

Both entries were chosen recently for inclusion in the Library’s National Recording Registry for long-term preservation, thanks to their cultural, artistic and historic importance.

“Congress created the National Recording Registry to celebrate the richness and variety of our audio heritage and to underscore our responsibility for long-term preservation, to assure that legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington in announcing the selections.

Each year, under the terms of the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, the Library selects recordings that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and at least 10 years old. The two entries from Louisiana were among 25 new inductees this year, which brings the total number of registry recordings to 375.

The 1940 recording, “You Are My Sunshine,” by Jimmie Davis, was one of the inductees with political significance. Davis was already a well-known musician when he ran for governor of Louisiana in ’44 and chose the tune as his campaign song. It became one of the most popular country songs of all time and Louisiana’s state song in ’77.

A year earlier, in 1976, Wild Tchoupitoulas was cut by the band the Wild Tchoupitoulas, led by George Landry, an uncle of the New Orleans musicians who would later form the famous Neville Brothers band. He recruited his nephews to play on the recording. The Library comments in its notes on selections that by bringing in their R&B and funk styles, the Wild Tchoupitoulas “celebrated this century-old tradition and broke new musical ground at the same time.”

These recordings will be housed in the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va. Nominations for this year’s registry selections came both from leaders in the music and recording industries and from public submissions made online. The Library is accepting nominations for the next round of inductees at loc.gov/nrpb.

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