Latin musicians have been essential to the success of the music industry for years, selling millions of records, redefining pop culture each year, and influencing new and upcoming artists. Now those efforts are finally being recognized by the Library of Congress. They recently announced three records by Latin artists— “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Puerto Rican artist Ricky Martin, the Spanish-language album Canciones de Mi Padre by Linda Ronstadt, and Buena Vista Social Club’s debut album—have been inducted into the National Recording Registry! The Registry is a list of sound recordings that are considered significant to the culture and history of the U.S. They are permanently preserved in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Only 25 recordings are selected every year so it’s a huge honor and win for the our community, especially those who grew up listening to this music and see it as a huge part of our cultural identity.
“No matter how many years go by, everyone’s reaction to hearing ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’ is still the same as it was 23 years ago when we released it,” Martin told El Nuevo Día. “It is a very powerful song that represents the fusion of Latin pop. It is an honor to be part of this song that has a very important page in the history of music, as it was part of the first album recorded entirely digitally and my first production completely in English. It is undoubtedly a song for history and I feel very honored that it has been recognized.”
First released in 1999, “Livin’ la Vida Loca” has become the 46-year-old singer’s most successful single to date. It received several Grammy nominations, has been featured in numerous films and tv shows, and is credited as paving the way for the “Latin pop explosion” of the early 2000s that included Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera.
Linda Ronstadt, who is of German and Mexican descent, was also honored by the Library with the inclusion of her first Spanish-language and mariachi album Canciones de Mi Padre. Against the wishes of her record label, Ronstadt released the album in 1987 in her Mexican father’s honor to international critical and commercial success. Decades later, it has been honored with an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame and now into the Registry.
“I learned a lot of my singing from Lola Beltrán,” Rondstadt previously told NBC. “Mexican music was a tremendous influence on my singing style.”
The Library also inducted the debut album of Buena Vista Social Club, one of the most influential Cuban bands in history. Originally released in 1997, the album sold over one million records and won a Grammy the following year. It was hugely influential on the popularity of Cuban music and Latin music overall in the U.S. and remains a modern classic.
These musicians are still considered icons in the music industry today. While Ronstadt has been retired for over a decade, her music — in various genres like rock, country, and opera — continues to influence modern musicians. Five of the original Buena Vista Social Club members continue to tour worldwide, while Martin is a frequent performer and an active voice in political and social issues in Puerto Rico.
Their music has been a staple in the industry for decades and it’s a huge step forward for them to be honored and seen on the national stage, bringing much-needed representation to Latin music lovers everywhere.
“[These Latino artists are] audio treasures worthy of preservation for all time based on their cultural, historical or aesthetic importance in the nation’s recorded sound heritage,” Current Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden told NBC.