WASHINGTON, D.C. – A 1973 recording of Voice of America’s longest running radio show, Music Time in Africa, has been inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry.
The show, created by longtime co-host Leo Sarkisian, takes its place in the registry with newly inducted recordings by Chubby Checker, The Bee Gees, Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkel and some 300 others that have been chosen since 2000.
Each year, 25 recordings are selected based on their cultural, historic or aesthetic influence.
Music Time in Africa first aired in 1965, making it VOA’s longest-running English-language show.
The July 1973 program inducted this week by the Library of Congress featured Sarkisian discussing and presenting music from Mauritania.
Throughout his career, Sarkisian recorded music from every nation on the African continent, as well as Bangladesh and Pakistan. The show still relies on those recordings to highlight music from different regions.
“I still keep up with what VOA is doing every day,” Sarkisian said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban Washington. “It was such a big part of my whole life. The best feeling I can have is to see all of the wonderful things that VOA is doing for Africa.”
Heather Maxwell, the current host of Music Time in Africa said, “This Library of Congress honor is significant because it proves how important pan-African music and culture is to both American and African nations. It also shows how music has nurtured the friendship between these countries since the show started in 1965.”
“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 [so that] this legacy can be appreciated and studied for generations,” Librarian of Congress James H. Billington told The Hollywood Reporter.
When Sarkisian retired in 2012 at the age 91, his original library numbered more than 10,000 one-of-a-kind, reel-to-reel recordings. “It is one of the most valuable and sought-after collections in the world,” said VOA Director David Ensor. The recordings are currently being digitized and stored in the library of the University of Michigan.
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