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Woody Guthrie Prize



The Woody Guthrie Prize is given annually to those who best exemplify the spirit and life work of Woody Guthrie by speaking for the less fortunate through music, film literature, dance, or other art forms and serving as a positive force for social change in America.

Past recipients of the award are: 2014 – Pete Seeger, 2015 – Mavis Staples, 2016 – Kris Kristofferson, 2017 – Norman Lear, 2018 – John Mellencamp.

“We hope that the Woody Guthrie Prize will shed an inspirational light on those who have decided to use their talents for the common good rather than for personal gain,” said Nora Guthrie, daughter of Woody Guthrie. “With his dry wit, Woody always preferred to call himself a ‘common-ist.’ His quote from John Steinbeck’s character, Tom Joad, says it pretty simply: ‘Wherever children are hungry and cry, wherever people ain’t free, wherever men are fightin’ for their rights, that’s where I’m gonna be.’ There are so many people who are living this credo, and they’re the ones we will be honoring.”

The Center is honored to present the annual Woody Guthrie Prize to those whose careers push the boundaries of how music can make us think, feel and act. Proceeds from the event support the Woody Guthrie Center, a 12,000-square-foot center that features state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits on Guthrie’s life, art and creative legacy. The Center is home to Guthrie’s comprehensive archives, including the original, handwritten version of Guthrie’s landmark anthem, “This Land is Your Land,” which is available for viewing at the Center.

In today’s world, Woody’s message is more important and relevant than ever, and the Woody Guthrie Center joins hands with those who continue this important work. In Woody’s own words, “I ain’t dead yet.” The Center keeps that message alive as we encourage others to “Be the Machine” to fight against injustice and recognize those social justice warriors who have created positive changes for all.