Woody Guthrie was born on July 14th, 1912 in Okemah, Oklahoma. Over the decades, his songs have run around the world like a fast train on a well-oiled track. They've become the folk song standards of the nation, known and performed in many languages throughout the world. He wrote over 3,000 songs in his lifetime, many of which have become staples in the canon of American music. He published two novels, created artworks, authored numerous published and unpublished manuscripts, poems, prose, and plays and hundreds of letters and news articles which are housed in the Woody Guthrie Archives in New York.
Having lived through some of the most significant historic movements and events of the Twentieth-Century --the Great Depression, the Great Dust Storm, World War II, the social and the political upheavals resulting from Unionism, the Communist Party and the Cold War-- Woody absorbed it all to become a prolific writer whose songs, ballads, prose and poetry captured the plight of everyman.
While traveling throughout the American landscape during the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, Woody's observations of what he saw and experienced have left for us a lasting and sometimes haunting legacy of images, sounds, and voices of the marginalized, disenfranchised, and oppressed people with whom he struggled to survive despite all odds. Although the corpus of original Woody Guthrie songs, or as Woody preferred "people's songs" is, perhaps, his most recognized contribution to American culture, the stinging honesty, humor, and wit found even in his most vernacular prose writings exhibit Woody's fervent belief in social, political, and spiritual justice.
In 1996, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Case Western Reserve University presented a ten day celebration honoring Woody Guthrie, entitled Hard Travelin'. It was the first major conference on the legacy of Woody Guthrie complete with a photo exhibition, lectures, films, and two benefit concerts, which were held in support of the Woody Guthrie Archives.
In 2012, to commemorate what would be Woody Guthrie’s centennial year, Woody Guthrie Publications, the Woody Guthrie Archives, and the GRAMMY Museum collaborated on a year-long celebration - from California to the New York Island and across the pond - with gala concerts, exhibits, educational conferences, grassroots events, new publications, album releases and a centennial website; Woody100.com.
Woody Guthrie has been recognized for his monumental contributions and achievements in American culture. He has been the recipient of prestigious awards both from governmental departments and private arts organizations.
• U.S. Department of the Interior, Conservation Service Award 1966
• The National Songwriters' Hall of Fame inductee 1970
• The Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame inductee 1977
• The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum inductee 1988
• The North American Folk Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award 1996
• National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Lifetime Achievement Award 1999
• The Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductee 2006
For more information on Woody Guthrie, click here and visit the Official Woody Guthrie Website!