“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.”
According to the Woody Guthrie Center, the prize is given to “an artist who best exemplifies Woody Guthrie’s spirit and work 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.”
It was first awarded to Pete Seeger in 2014 and has since been given to Mavis Staples, Kris Kristofferson, Norman Lear, John Mellencamp, Chuck D, and Joan Baez.
Springsteen has been a fan of Guthrie’s music and activism for decades and he’s played many of his songs in concert, including “This Land Is Your Land,” “Tom Joad,” “I Ain’t Got No Home,” “Vigilante Man,” “Blowin’ Down the Road,” “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos),” and “Oklahoma Hills.”
“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,” Woody Guthrie Center Director Deana McCloud said in a statement. “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,” she continued, “and inspiring generations to find the power of their own voices.”