Tickets are on sale now at the SJSU Event Center box office or ticketmaster.com or 1-800-745-3000.
Media contact: Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations
Tickets: SJSU Event Center box office or ticketmaster.com or 1-800-745-3000
For the first time since Joan Baez in 2003, a musician will receive the prestigious John Steinbeck Award, “In the Souls of the People.” On Monday, July 30, at the historic California Theatre, Thomas Steinbeck will present the John Steinbeck Award to singer/songwriter/activist John Mellencamp. “A Conversation and Special Performance” will include a talk with Mellencamp, moderated by Robert Santelli, executive director of the Grammy Museum, and musical performance from Mellencamp.
Upon receiving the John Steinbeck Award, Mellencamp will have his name further linked to that of the legendary Baez on a select list of two as the only recipients of both the Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie awards. Mellencamp received the Guthrie award in 2003.
Previous recipients of the John Steinbeck Award include: Bruce Springsteen, Arthur Miller, Studs Terkel, Dolores Huerta, John Sayles, Jackson Browne, Garrison Keillor, Joan Baez, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Rachel Maddow.
The Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University is the world’s leading archive of Steinbeck materials, with over 30,000 items. The center has been authorized by the Steinbeck estate to present awards to those artists and activists whose work exemplifies the themes and values found in the writings of John Steinbeck: in particular, his concern for the natural environment, his commitment to the common people, and his willingness to critique the contrasts between the powerful and the poor.
Of John Mellencamp, Thomas Steinbeck, noted author and the surviving son of John Steinbeck, said: “My father always carried a deep and profound respect for songwriters and musicians. He felt they were the voice of the people and had the unique opportunity to reach the very souls of the people. Like Woody Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, and a handful of others, John Mellencamp has done just that. He has spent his life serving as a voice for the people.
“John’s 40-year career makes one marvel. As an artist, John Mellencamp has been a superb singer-songwriter-storyteller; as an exemplary activist, and as a creator and longtime champion of Farm Aid, he has maintained the true spirit of John Steinbeck’s compassion for the worker. Without question, John Mellencamp has earned the John Steinbeck Award, and it will be my great pleasure to present it to him.”
John Mellencamp commented, “John Steinbeck’s remarkable ability to give voice to the common man and to people on society’s margins, to describe their plight and aspirations, continues to inspire us more than a century after his birth. I’m very honored to be the recipient of an award given in his name.”
The John Steinbeck Award, “In the Souls of the People,” was first given in 1996. Nominations for the award are made by a committee of members of the board of the Center for Steinbeck Studies at San Jose State University.
Tickets for this one-of-a-kind John Mellencamp event, “A Conversation and Special Performance,” are on sale now. For tickets or further information, visit the SJSU Event Center box office or ticketmaster.com or call 1-800-745-3000.