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Bruce Cockburn To Be Honoured At Folk Alliance Int.

Pondering in the studio. Photo: Daniel Keebler
Pondering in the studio. Photo: Daniel Keebler

Bruce Cockburn is to receive an inaugural People’s Voice Award at the 29th annual Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City on February 15.

The honour recognizes a 40-year career in which he has "consistently highlighted environmental, social and indigenous issues globally" and "unabashedly embraced and committed (himself to) social and political commentary" in his creative work and folk music career.

A release from the global alliance had this to say about the decorated Canadian:

Bruce Cockburn has been all over the world to Mozambique, Nepal, Vietnam, Baghdad, Nicaragua, and Guatemala to protect refugee camps, and protest landmines, and Third World debt.

He has been tirelessly vocal in support of native rights, the environment, the promotion of peace, and has highlighted the work of Oxfam, the UN Summit for Climate Control, Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, and Friends of the Earth.

His songs "Mines of Mozambique" from the album The Charity of Night, "Stolen Land" (Waiting for a Miracle), and "If a Tree Falls" (Big Circumstance) have travelled the globe providing context for some of the world’s biggest issues of the day, while exhorting to all who listen for engagement with our shared humanity.

In over 300 songs on 30 albums that range from folk to jazz-influenced rock, he has sold more than seven million records worldwide and prolifically captured the story of the human experience through protest, romance, spiritual searching, and politics. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 1985, after observing the horrors of refugee camps along the Guatemalan-Mexican border he shared that he went back to his hotel room, cried, and wrote in his notebook, "I understand now why people want to kill." The experience led him to write "If I Had A Rocket Launcher" from the album Stealing Fire.  

Cockburn is the recipient of 13 Juno Awards, the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, nine honorary doctorates, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. Pacing the Cage, a documentary film about his life, music, and politics was released in 2013. His memoir, Rumours of Glory, was published by Harper Collins in 2014.

“We can’t settle for things as they are,” Cockburn has warned. “If you don’t tackle the problems, they’re going to get worse.”

The award is one of two new additions during the annual.

The second, the Clearwater Award, will be presented to a festival that prioritizes environmental stewardship and demonstrates public leadership in education and sustainable event production.

Additional awards including Lifetime Achievement, Spirit of Folk, and Album, Song, and Artist of the Year are to be presented Feb. 15 at the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

FAI draws as many as 2,400 registered attendees from 18 countries, attracting 75 exhibitors last year, and hosting 150 panels and workshops, 200 official juried showcases, and over 2,800 private showcases. Its annual budget is pegged at around $1M and the spin-off from bookings, tours, and even record deals is a multiple of this number.