ASCAP would like to congratulate singer-songwriter extraordinaire John Mellencamp, who will receive the 2012 John Steinbeck Award for his excellence in songwriting and activism. In addition to his successful music career, Mellencamp is a founding member of Farm Aid, an organization that has used concert performances to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep families on their land since 1985.
Presenting the Award to Mellencamp on Monday, July 30th at the historic California Theatre in San Jose will be Thomas Steinbeck, author and son of the acclaimed author, who believes that “John Mellencamp is a superb singer-songwriter-storyteller [and] an exemplary activist. 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." In addition to a short conversation moderated by Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum Robert Santelli, Mellencamp will give a musical performance in celebration of his achievement.
This will be the first time since Joan Baez received the Steinbeck honor in 2003 that a songwriter has received the prestigious award. In fact, upon receiving the John Steinbeck Award, Mellencamp will have his name further connected with that of Baez as the only two recipients of both the Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie Awards. Mellencamp received the Guthrie Award in 2003. When asked about how this award will compare to the others Mellencamp has received in the past, he simply replied, “To get something from the Guthrie family or the Steinbeck family is pretty nice praise for a guy from Indiana.”
Mellencamp rose to stardom in the mid 1980’s with Americana hits like “Jack and Diane,” “Pink Houses” and “Small Town.” In 2007, The ASCAP Foundation honored him with the Champion Award at its 12th Annual Awards ceremony for outstanding use of music in the service of humanity. Since then, he has released three acclaimed full-length albums: Freedom’s Road (2007), Life, Death, Love and Freedom (2008), and No Better Than This (2010), along with a live album in 2009.