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John Mellencamp Set to Receive John Steinbeck Award

Jemal Countess, Getty Images

In years past, the John Steinbeck Award, named after the famous author, has been bestowed upon musical greats including Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez and Jackson Browne.

And now you can add John Mellencamp to their lofty ranks — he’s set to receive the Steinbeck Award himself next month.

The honor is given to those with “the spirit of Steinbeck’s empathy, commitment to democratic values, and belief in the dignity of the common man,” and in a press release on Mellencamp’s website, Steinbeck’s son Thomas said the singer fits the bill.

“My father always carried a deep and profound respect for songwriters and musicians,” Thomas said. “He felt they were the voice of the people and had the unique opportunity to reach the very souls of the people.”

“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 [my father’s] compassion for the worker,” Thomas continued.

“Without question, John Mellencamp has earned the John Steinbeck Award, and it will be my great pleasure to present it to him.”

In response, Mellencamp said, “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 awards ceremony will be held Monday, July 30 at the historic California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., during which Mellencamp will perform and be interviewed by Grammy museum executive director Robert Santelli. If you’d like to go, tickets are on sale now.

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