Music

Tom Morello Named 2024 Woody Guthrie Prize Honoree

Artist and activist Tom Morello will receive the 2024 Woody Guthrie Prize on Sept. 25 at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

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The annual award recognizes a recipient who embodies the spirit of Guthrie’s social consciousness and musical legacy. Previous honorees include Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Chuck D, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Pussy Riot as well as groundbreaking TV producer Norman Lear.

Following the ceremony, Morello will participate in an onstage conversation exploring his work and inspirations before performing an acoustic set.

“Woody Guthrie was a fearless agitator, a six-string instigator, a poetic truth teller and a harmonizing hell raiser,” Morello said in a statement. “He was the original punk rocker whose life, music, art and lyrics were beacons of justice and liberation for the downtrodden and oppressed. In my own work, Woody has been an inspiration to tell it like I see it without compromise or apology and to play my songs (and his songs) on the picket line and at the barricade whenever and wherever people are taking a stand.”

“Tom is one of today’s most outraged and outrageously talented artists,” Nora Guthrie, Woody’s daughter, said in a statement. “Lucky for us, he channels this outrage towards injustice, towards inequity and towards anti-democratic vigilantes. He doesn’t just speak truth to power, he screams truth to power. Woody’s favorite word was ‘Union.’ Turns out, it’s Tom Morello’s favorite word too.”

The Sept. 25 event will also feature remarks from Guthrie’s granddaughter, Anna Canoni, and Cady Shaw, director of the Woody Guthrie Center, which is also in Tulsa. The public can join this year’s event through a variety of experience packages available now for members at a discount and for the general public beginning Monday, June 3 at 10 a.m. CT.

Guthrie’s most famous song is “This Land Is Your Land,” which he wrote in February 1940 – in response to what he felt was the overplaying of Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America” on the radio. Guthrie died in 1967 at age 55 from complications of Huntington’s disease. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an early/musical influence in 1988 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2000.

Morello was a founding member of both Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. He also played in the rap/rock supergroup Prophets of Rage and served a six-year stint in Springsteen’s E Street Band.

Morello has won two Grammys, both for his work with Rage. “Tire Me” won best metal performance in 1997. “Guerrilla Radio” won best hard rock performance four years later. Rage was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2023.

Morello was also the 2023 Music Will Humanitarian of the Year recipient and is an ACLU Artist for Smart Justice for his advocacy work.

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