TULSA, Okla. — Bruce Springsteen has won the 2021 Woody Guthrie Prize, which is given to an artist seen as carrying on the spirit of the folk singer whose music focused on the plight of the poor and disenfranchised.
Guthrie, who grew up in Okemah, Oklahoma, was one of the most important figures in American folk music and penned hundreds of songs, including some that The Boss has performed over the years.
“Woody wrote some of the greatest songs about America’s struggle to live up its ideals in convincing fashion,” Springsteen said in a statement Tuesday. The New Jersey rocker called Guthrie, who died in 1967 at age 55, “one of my most important influences.”
Springsteen and previous prize recipient Pete Seeger performed Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” at Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential inauguration.
Deana McCloud, who heads the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, said in a news release that, “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.”
“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,” she added.
Joan Baez, Chuck D, John Mellencamp, Norman Lear, Kris Kristofferson and Mavis Staples are among the past recipients of the award.
Springsteen will be honored during a virtual ceremony on May 13.