Bruce Springsteen, whose career has taken him from the New Jersey boardwalks to superstardom, will be recognized May 13 as the latest recipient of the Woody Guthrie Prize.
Springsteen will be presented the award during a live-streamed ceremony that will be accessible by Woody Guthrie Center members. For more information on becoming a member, go to woodyguthriecenter.org.
The Woody Guthrie Prize is given to an artist of any medium who continues in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, using his or her art to be a champion for the voiceless and to shine a light on our world, showing us what needs to be fixed and how to fix it.
Over the course of 20 studio albums, Springsteen has used his storytelling ability to write songs that connect with people who faced the hard times and celebrated the good times — a soundtrack of resilience, strength, heart, and joy despite or even in spite of the struggles of daily life.
Among his most iconic songs are “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” “Promised Land,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “The Rising,” and “Hungry Heart.”
“I’m honored to receive the 2021 Woody Guthrie Prize,” Springsteen said in a statement. “Woody wrote some of the greatest songs about America’s struggle to live up its ideals in convincing fashion. He is one of my most important influences and inspirations.”
Springsteen has often talked about how Guthrie’s work inspired his own music, and he performs Guthrie songs regularly, including “This Land is Your Land” with fellow Woody Guthrie Prize recipient Pete Seeger before the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009.
This year, Springsteen and the former president started a podcast titled “Renegades.”
Springsteen has sold 120 million records worldwide, has earned 20 GRAMMY Awards, an Oscar and a Tony Award, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, received the Kennedy Center Honors 10 years later and in 2016, was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“As an observer of the human condition and a reporter about the plight of common people, Bruce Springsteen is a true child of Woody Guthrie,” said Woody Guthrie Center Director Deana McCloud. “He continues Woody’s work by writing about our struggles in this land of hope and dreams, and provided one of our favorite performances of ‘This Land is Your Land’ with Pete Seeger at the first Obama inauguration. The Woody Guthrie Center is proud to present Bruce with this well-deserved recognition for his lifetime of speaking for the disenfranchised and inspiring generations to find the power of their own voices.”
Past recipients of the award include Joan Baez, Chuck D, John Mellencamp, Norman Lear, Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples, and Pete Seeger.
“We’ve been hoping that Bruce would join our extended family as we gather this year to say, ‘Thank you for caring and for speaking out.’ Welcome, brother!” said Nora Guthrie, president of Woody Guthrie Publications and Woody’s daughter.
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"Woody wrote some of the greatest songs about America’s struggle to live up its ideals in convincing fashion. He is one of my most important influences and inspirations."
-- Bruce Springsteen