Bruce Springsteen to accept the 2021 Woody Guthrie Prize
Springsteen will be recognized for his work continuing Woody’s legacy with a virtual event.
The Woody Guthrie Center® will present the award in a members-only exclusive event on May 13. To become a member visit the membership page now.
Over 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. Often backed by the E Street Band, Springsteen’s music provides a soundtrack of resilience, strength, heart, and joy despite or even in spite of the struggles thrown our way. Drawing from his experiences growing up in New Jersey, Springsteen’s songs have connected on a universal level with fans worldwide. And those who have seen Springsteen perform live have seen his sweat, drive, and dedication to music and to his fans.
“I’m honored to receive the 2021 Woody Guthrie Prize,” Springsteen said. “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’s connection to Woody Guthrie is direct, frequently discussing how Guthrie’s work inspired his own music and performing 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. 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.”
The Woody Guthrie Prize is given to an artist of any medium who continues in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie: A champion for the voiceless with an understanding of how a platform can be used to shine a light on our world, showing us what needs to be fixed and how to fix it. Springsteen has been at the forefront his whole career, connected to the traditions of Guthrie that he continues to exude today. 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 – which includes the spirit sons and daughters of Woody, Pete Seeger and Lead Belly – 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.