WWOZ-FM, the legendary community-supported radio station in New Orleans, has gifted the Library of Congress with more than 7,000 hours of live jazz and blues recordings spanning 15 years. The contribution, which comes after Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters nearly destroyed the station’s primary tape storage facility, will ensure the safety of the station’s collection of historic recordings. In support of this remarkable gift, the GRAMMY Foundation® has awarded WWOZ $45,000 in grants toward the preservation of the collection.
“We are excited about this unique collection and look forward to partnering with WWOZ and the GRAMMY Foundation to preserve it and make the historic recordings available to the American people,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
Of the $45,000 provided by the GRAMMY Foundation, $5,000 was awarded through the foundation’s Music Preservation Project, which identifies and restores at-risk media and archival materials, and $40,000 was provided through a special Gulf Coast award cycle through the GRAMMY Foundation Grant Program.
According to David Freedman, general manager of WWOZ, “Without the combined support of the Library and the GRAMMY Foundation, the station could not have come up with the money to save all its live performance recordings. At the same time, we were in a position to greatly enhance the Library’s collection and thus every American’s access to great music.”
These one-of-a-kind recordings, derived from various music festivals, nightclubs and street events, feature diverse forms of New Orleans’s roots music including jazz, blues, gospel, brass band
and zydeco. “The WWOZ Crescent City Living Legends Collection” includes the most extensive collection of live music performances dating back to 1993 of New Orleans’ most recognized artists, including Ernie K-Doe, Boozoo Chavis and Tuba Fats. Selections from the WWOZ collection were named to the Library’s 2002 National Recording Registry.
While awaiting cataloging and digital preservation, the fragile recordings will be stored in climate-controlled vaults at the Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation (www.loc.gov/avconservation/packard/), the Library’s state-of-the-art preservation facility in Culpeper, Va. The Packard Campus, with a construction cost of more than $150 million, represents the largest-ever private gift to the Library of Congress and one of the largest ever to the federal government. It has been supported since 2001 by $82.1 million in federal funds for operations, maintenance, equipment and related costs.
The 415,000-square-foot facility will consolidate in one place audio-visual collections from across four states and the District of Columbia and will greatly enhance the Library’s efforts to preserve and make accessible the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of moving images and sound recordings. The WWOZ collection will join the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division’s holdings of some 5.7 million items (1.2 million moving images, nearly 3 million sound recordings and 1.5 million related items such as manuscripts, posters and screenplays). The Library will provide public access to the preserved audio at listening stations in the Recorded Sound Reference Center in the Library’s Madison Building on Capitol Hill.