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RIAA, NEA Announce ‘Songs of the Century’

Initiative to Introduce Children to American Musical Heritage Through Curriculum Created by Scholastic Inc. and Streamed into Schools with AOL@SCHOOL

Washington, DC – The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced today the “Songs of the Century” project, a nationwide education initiative intended to promote a better understanding of America’s musical and cultural heritage in our schools.

Distributed to schools throughout the country, the “Songs of the Century” curriculum will help further an appreciation for the music development process, including songwriting, musicianship, recording, performing, producing, distributing and the development of cultural values.

“American music has touched everyone’s lives throughout its short history. It’s the perfect educational tool,” said Hilary Rosen, President and CEO of the RIAA. “Our list represents many different genres throughout all parts of the 20th century. And our hope is that each song will help tell a very different story,” Rosen concluded.

“This project demonstrates that the recording industry takes seriously its role as a caretaker of our nation’s cultural heritage,” stated National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Bill Ivey. “This partnership is an important example of industry’s willingness to make positive contributions to the lives and education of our country’s young citizens.”

Joining Rosen and Ivey at the Library of Congress to unveil the 365 Songs of the Century were Doug Morris, Chairman/CEO, Universal Music Group; MCA Recording Artist Trisha Yearwood; Fred Foss Youth Jazz Orchestra; and the Duke Ellington School of Arts Show Choir.

Scholastic Inc., will produce a curriculum for teachers, students and families that addresses core subjects through a discussion of the evolution of music from a historical, social, cultural and technological perspective. For the inaugural phase of the “Songs of the Century” project, the cross-curricular program will be provided free of charge to 10,000 fifth grade teachers in key areas nationally. Through Scholastic, the “Songs of the Century” curriculum is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of students as well as media specialists, administrators and families.

To meet the needs of educators and students nationwide, Scholastic will be designing the curricular materials in alliance with national educational standards. Scholastic will distribute the “Songs of the Century” materials to schools for use throughout the 2001-2002 school year. Scholastic will also track the project’s implementation and usage.

In addition to hosting the Songs of the Century streaming audio, AOL will provide distribution for the Songs of the Century curriculum through their AOL@SCHOOLservice. The intention is to partner with others in key areas, such as the Experience Music Project in Seattle to allow students to consider music from the technological perspective. The project will reach out to cultural and community based organizations to examine the eclectic array of songs, the evocative and entertaining nature of the repertoire and the educational value of the curriculum.

Official “Songs of the Century” ballots were sent out to music lovers across the country. The hundreds of voters came from all walks of life including local, state and federal elected officials, the music industry, teachers, members of the media and students. Participants were asked to keep in mind the historical significance of not only the song, but also of the record and artist.

Voters identified 365 key recordings. The songs were chosen from a master list of over 1,100 recordings of historical significance. More than 40 reference volumes, several popular music experts and award-winning lists from the RIAA, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), National Association Of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) and other organizations were used in the process. Voters were also able to write-in entries.

For more information about the National Endowment for the Arts, please contact the NEA Office of Communications at 202-682-5570 or visit the NEA Web site at www.arts.gov. For more information about the Recording Industry Association of America, call 202-775-0101, or visit the RIAA Web site at www.riaa.com. For more information about AOL@SCHOOL visit their Website at www.school.aol.com. For more information about Scholastic Inc., visit their Website at www.scholastic.com.


The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

Jonathan Lamy
Cara Duckworth
Liz Kennedy