Tom Morello to Receive 2024 Woody Guthrie Prize, Joins Past Honorees Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Springsteen, Chuck D, and More

Rage Against the Machine‘s Tom Morello is set to receive the 2024 Woody Guthrie Prize on Sept. 25 at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Morello joins previous honorees Kris Kristofferson, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Chuck D, Joan Baez, Pussy Riot, and late TV producer Norman Lear, and will be honored on September 25, 2024 at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Morello is being awarded the Woody Guthrie Prize for his “outstanding contributions to music and activism, embodying the spirit of Woody Guthrie’s social consciousness and musical legacy,” according to the Woody Guthrie Center.

The ceremony will feature remarks by Cady Shaw, director of the Woody Guthrie Center, and Guthrie’s granddaughter, Anna Canoni, and will highlight Morello’s impact on the music industry and social justice movements. The event will close with a Q&A session with Morello, followed by an acoustic performance.

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“Woody Guthrie was a fearless agitator, a six-string instigator, a poetic truth-teller, and a harmonizing hell-raiser,” said Morello 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.”

Guthrie’s daughter Nora added, “Tom is one of today’s most outraged and outrageously talented artists. 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.”

Tom Morello speaks onstage during the 38th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on November 03, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)

The first Woody Guthrie Prize was awarded in 2014 to the late folk singer and activist Seeger who first played with Guthrie in 1941 as a member of the Almanac Singers. In 2015, Staples received the second honor, followed by Kristofferson in 2016 through the 2023 honorees of the Russian feminist protest artists Pussy Riot.

When Springsteen received the Woody Guthrie Prize in 2021, he shared how Guthrie influenced his life and music. “I was going through a period in my life when I felt strangely hopeless,” said Springsteen about a more dissonant time following the release of his 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. “It wasn’t until I came across [Guthrie’s] work that I found that hope. I believed that the veils had been pulled off and what I was seeing was the real country that I live in and what was at stake for the people and citizenry who are my neighbors and friends.”

Springsteen added, “It was the first music where I found a reflection of America that I believed to be true.”

In 2009, Springsteen also performed Guthrie’s 1940 classic “This Land is Your Land” with fellow recipient Pete Seeger before the 2009 inauguration of former president Barack Obama.

During his brief performance at the Guthrie Center, Springsteen opened with two of Guthrie’s 1940 songs “Tom Joad,” and the protest song for immigrants in 1948, “Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos),” before closing on his own “Across the Border,” from his 1995 folk album The Ghost of Tom Joad and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which was also covered by Rage Against the Machine.

Guthrie died in 1967 at age 55 from complications of Huntington’s disease. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy in 2000. The Woody Guthrie Center opened in 2013.

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for TIDAL

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