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Sister Sledge’s We Are Family, The Wiz, Big Mama Thornton, Garland, Streisand, Bowie, and More Among National Recording Registry 2017 by Lisa Pacino

Sister Sledge’s anthem “We Are Family” in 1979 written by Chic founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the original cast album of Broadway’s The Wiz in 1975, “Over The Rainbow” by Judy Garland in 1939, “Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton in 1953, “People” by Barbra Streisand in 1964, “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett in 1965, “The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery” album by Wes Montgomery in 1960, “Saxophone Colossus” by Sonny Rollins in 1956, “Amazing Grace” by Judy Collins in 1970, “American Pie” by Don McLean in 1971, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” album by David Bowie in 1972, “Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)” by the Eagles in 1976, “Treemonisha” Gunther Schuller, arr. by Scott Joplin in 1976, “Signatures” album by operatic soprano Renée Fleming in 1997, N.W.A.’s genre-defining single “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, and in comedy- “Wanted: Live in Concert” by Richard Pryor in 1978, are among the works that have made it into the National Recording Registry this year, 2017. Each year, the Librarian of Congress picks 25 titles that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” and at least 10 years old. This latest batch spans the years 1888 to 1997 and brings the total number of titles in the Registry to 475.

Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.

In addition, the black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be included (singles- Manhattan Harmony Four in 1923; Melba Moore and Friends in 1990) with text written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1905, the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” has served as the “Black National Anthem” since its adoption by the NAACP in 1919. As with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” no single recording captures the hymn’s essence or its overall meaning to Americans. Therefore, the registry recognizes two recordings: the 1923 version by the Manhattan Harmony Four, one of the last discs issued by the short-lived Black Swan Co. — a pioneering African-American-owned record label based in Harlem— and a modernized 1990 version headed by Melba Moore. Moore sought to restore the standing of the song among young African-Americans. Among the many participants in her latter, all-star recording were Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Dionne Warwick, and Bobby Brown. The resulting single, which benefited charity, made headlines at the time and helped to raise public awareness of the Johnsons’ anthem.

Nile Rodgers of CHIC. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.

Sister Sledge’s anthem “We Are Family” in 1979: The four sisters of Sister Sledge were veteran performers by their early 20s, but as 1979 dawned, they had enjoyed only intermittent success in eight years of recording. A collaboration with the members of the disco powerhouse Chic proved to be the turning point for the family group, and they scored their first major hit early that year with “He’s the Greatest Dancer,” setting the stage for the release of the album and single “We Are Family,” written by Chic founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, in May. Twenty-year-old lead singer Kathy Sledge nailed the eight-and-a-half-minute song entirely on the first take, and it seemed to be everywhere through the summer and fall of 1979. The Pittsburgh Pirates made it their theme song, and the group’s performance of it at the opening game of the World Series and the Pirates’ subsequent come-from-behind victory to win the championship made “We Are Family” an anthem, with its own status and meaning.

Lisa Pacino and Under The Duvet Productions are based in New York. Photography services are available worldwide. If you wish to book photography services, receive information, and/or license images for commercial and/or promotional use please E-mail: UnderTheDuvetProductions@gmail.com

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Source: National Recording Registry

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