Pop hits, R&B grooves and Broadway anthems thumped through the Coolidge Auditorium Wednesday night as the We Write the Songs concert burst back into life for the first time in four years, featuring songwriters such as Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Madison Love and Matthew West. The 90-minute showcase is an annual event (save for the recent COVID-caused gap) by the Library and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation. It demonstrates to an audience heavy with members of Congress and Capitol Hill staffers, often in danceable fashion, why the rights of creative artists have to be protected.
Jimmy Buffett, whose iconic "Margaritaville" was inducted into the National Recording Registry this year, died yesterday at age 76. We interviewed him in March for the NRR. Here, we remember that conversation, his story of writing the song, his performance at the Library in 2008 and how his songs inspired the author long ago, even before Buffett was a star.
When the Library acquired choreographer Garth Fagan’s papers earlier this year, it wasn't just about his work on "The Lion King." Fagan's papers built on Music Division collections of an array of dance luminaries: Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Bronislava Nijinska, Katherine Dunham and the American Ballet Theatre. The Library’s dance-related materials cover the American art form from Colonial times to the present. Together, they present a dazzling history of American dance.
Tony Bennett, the Gershwin Prize-winning singer who knew his way around torch ballads, jazz standards and just about every nook and cranny of the Great American Songbook, has passed away at 96. He dazzled and charmed everyone at his Gershwin Prize concert in 2017 and we won't forget him, his grace and his impeccable touch with a song, anytime soon
The Lee Strasberg papers, held in the Manuscript Division, provide a unique glimpse into his Actors Studio, which created the influential style of Method Acting. In 1955, attendees signed in by hand, giving a snapshot of a galaxy of stars at work and producing a collector's dream of celebrity autographs: Paul Newman, Marilyn Monroe, Harry Belafonte, Eva Marie Saint, Patricia Neal, Rod Steiger, Geraldine Page and Eli Wallach, among many others.
Danny Elfman has composed or produced scores for more than 100 films, including blockbusters such as “Batman” and “Men in Black.” He’s composed themes for TV hits, as classic as “The Simpsons” and as recent as “Wednesday.” He was at the Library this week to present something more subtle: the world premiere of his latest classical work. “Suite for Chamber Orchestra,” commissioned by the LIbrary, debuted Thursday night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in D.C. In this interview, he talks about his cinema and classical works, as well as original rock band, Oingo Boingo.
The Library's collections encompassing LGBTQ+ material spans centuries, inlucding unique holdings on world famous figures as well as the lives of every day people. Oscar WIlde, Frances Benjamin Johnston, Alvin Ailey, Leonard Bernstein and silent screen star Alla Nazimova are just some of the major names and collections represented here. Laws that either target or protect gay people are also preserved. This essay explores the range and the depth of the stories these collections reveal.
It is midafternoon on a recent weekday and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis is driving across the Southwest, taking the call on speakerphone that his 1985 album, “Black Codes (From the Underground),” has been inducted into the 2023 class of the National Recording Registry. With endless desert spreading about behind and before him, he took a few minutes to talk about the album and its pointed political statement.