Pussy Riot Awarded the 2023 Woody Guthrie Prize

The annual honour celebrates an artist who "best exemplifies Guthrie's spirit and work"

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Mar 24, 2023

Pussy Riot have been awarded the 2023 Woody Guthrie Prize, an annual honour given to an artist who "best exemplifies Guthrie's spirit and work by speaking for the less fortunate."

The group's Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova will accept the prize — awarded to artists "serving as a positive force for social change" working in "music, film, literature, dance, or other art forms" — during an event at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, OK, on May 6.

In a statement, Tolokonnikova shared the following on Pussy Riot's honour:

It feels fitting to be awarded in the spirit of Woody, I think he would love Pussy Riot's anti-fascist message. Usually, when Pussy riot gets added to lists, it's not always a good thing, but we are honored to be on this one.

We don't really do folk, but we don't really do punk either, we simply scream and protest as loud as we can, and hope we can show others they can do the same. Like Woody said, any fool can make something complicated, our message is clear and simple. Anyone can be Pussy Riot. Riot. Riot. Resist.

Oh and a quick reminder to Vladimir Putin and anyone who supports his Z regime … All you fascists are bound to lose.

Past Woody Guthrie Prize honourees include Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, Chuck D, Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Norman Lear, Mavis Staples and Pete Seeger.

Proceeds from the annual prize event help support the Woody Guthrie Center, which houses the artist's comprehensive archives and features interactive exhibits which explore his art, life and legacy.

"As artists who, like Woody Guthrie, have the courage of their convictions, there are no contemporary artists more worthy of this recognition than Pussy Riot," Cady Shaw, director of the Woody Guthrie Center, said in a statement. "They have paid a very personal price for speaking their minds on the most serious issues of our time, yet they continue to fight for justice and freedom."

Pussy Riot released debut mixtape Matriarchy Now last August which, in spite of its important messaging, did not escape our Worst Album Covers of 2022 honours. Before that arrived, the group's Alyokhina was reported to have escaped Russia dressed as a food courier.

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