TULSA, Okla. – Rocker John Mellencamp has been chosen to receive the Woody Guthrie Prize.
The Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced Wednesday that Mellencamp is the fifth recipient of the award and will be presented with it during an Aug. 30 ceremony.
The annual prize is given to an artist who best exemplifies the spirit and life work of Woody Guthrie by speaking for the less fortunate and serving as a positive force for social change.
Previous recipients include TV writer/producer Norman Lear, and singers Kris Kristofferson, Mavis Staples and Pete Seeger.
The center says in a news release that Mellencamp, like Guthrie, “has used his artistic gifts to spread a positive message of hope, equality and freedom.”
Mellencamp, 66, is an Indiana native, Farm Aid co-founder and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His latest album, “Sad Clowns and Hillbillies,” includes the song “My Soul’s Got Wings,” with music by Mellencamp and lyrics originally written by Guthrie, who was 55 when he died in 1967 of Huntington’s disease, a genetic disorder that results in the death of brain cells.
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester, USA TODAY