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Janet Jackson’s Minneapolis-made ‘Rhythm Nation 1814’ added to National Recording Registry

Detail of 'Rhythm Nation 1814' album cover (A&M)

Rhythm Nation 1814, the 1989 Janet Jackson album that served as a statement of purpose for a generation, is one of 25 recordings that have been added to the National Recording Registry, the Library of Congress announced today.

“We wanted Rhythm Nation to really communicate empowerment,” said co-producer “Jimmy Jam” Harris in a statement. “It was making an observation, but it was also a call to action. Janet’s purpose was to lead people and do it through music, which I think is the ultimate uniter of people.”

The New York Times reports that Rhythm Nation “may have won the most votes in the public nominating process” for this year’s additions, which also includes Kermit the Frog’s rendition of “Rainbow Connection” and Louis Armstrong’s take on “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

The Registry, which now numbers 575 recordings, comprises “audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage.”

Noting that Rhythm Nation was one of several hit Jackson albums recorded in Minneapolis with Harris and Terry Lewis, the Library of Congress lauded the album’s “songs protesting racism, police brutality and social injustice of the day. The ‘1814’ of the title was a call back to the composition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ with this being a new anthem for a new nation — one built on a multiracial, multiethnic vision and a thick dance groove.”

Other locally-connected recordings previously inducted into the Registry include “Over the Rainbow” sung by Grand-Rapids-born Judy Garland; Prince’s album Purple Rain; “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” the breakout single from the Minneapolis-raised Andrews Sisters; the 1974 debut broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion from the campus of Macalester College in St. Paul; and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.