Among the 25 recordings recently selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry are a number of milestone records by Latino artists, including Linda Ronstadt’s exquisite Canciones de mi Padre. The Spanish-language album covered songs by beloved Mexican composers, including Rubén Fuentes and Gilberto Parra.
“Canciones de Mi Padre is an album I’ve always wanted to make because of my Mexican heritage,” said Ronstadt, who was born and raised in the Sonoran desert along the southern borderlands. Released in 1987 “despite her music label’s disapproval,” the mariachi record won a competitive Grammy, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame last year, and remains the biggest selling non-English album in U.S. music history, NBC News said.
“While Linda Ronstadt is best known for her work in country, rock and pop music, she often referenced her Mexican-American roots,” the Library of Congress said in a statement. “In 1987, she paid full tribute to her heritage with her album ‘Canciones de Mi Padre,’ recorded with four distinguished mariachi bands.”
In a take that aged like milk left out in the sun, Rolling Stone magazine initially insulted the record as “the party-gag album of the year,” Gustavo Arellano wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 2017. But the album has not only remained a beloved favorite among Latinos—Ronstadt said that she recalled looking out into her audience and seeing “three generations of families there”—it’s credited with introducing these compositions and music style to new listeners.
“I love the musical traditions that came with it,” Ronstadt said. “I always thought they were world-class songs. And I thought they were songs that the music could transcend the language barrier.” Ronstadt has also had a long history as a fierce defender of migrant rights, in 2020 accepting the Dolores Huerta Award from Farmworker Justice.
Career-defining recordings by Puerto Rican entertainer Ricky Martin and Cuban group Buena Vista Social Club were also selected for induction alongside Ronstadt. In the statement, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said that 1,000 nominations were received this year. “The National Recording Registry reflects the diverse music and voices that have shaped our nation’s history and culture through recorded sound. The national library is proud to help preserve these recordings,” she said.
The Library of Congress has in recent months taken significant steps to increase Latino representation across various mediums.
In December, Selena, the biopic depicting the life of beloved Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. In a statement, the Library of Congress hailed both Selena and the Gregory Nava-directed film as “touchstones in Latin American culture,” adding that the singer’s “infectious appeal crossed over to audiences of all kinds.” More recently, the Library of Congress said it would include thousands of immigrant stories in the Handbook of Latin American Studies Web Archive.
The Immigrant Archive Project, which has steadily worked to archive these stories, also accepts requests for unique story submissions. The Library of Congress said that “as the internet has become an increasingly important and influential part of our lives, we believe the historical record would be incomplete if websites like [these] are not preserved and made a part of it,” NBC News reported.
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