"THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND" In 1929, eighteen-year-old aspiring singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie arrived in Pampa, Texas, from Oklahoma at the behest of his father, an Oklahoma businessman down on his luck and working in Pampa to pay off debts. Guthrie, already a determined musician and an accomplished harmonica player with little interest in the conventions of rural Panhandle life, spent more time busking on Pampa streets and reading in the local library than attending school, dropping out of Pampa High before completing his final year. In Pampa, Guthrie quickly acquired an amazing skill with the guitar and fiddle. At nineteen, he married and worked at jobs in Pampa while continuing to hone his musical skills.
In 1937, Guthrie left Pampa behind, joining the throngs of Midwesterners driven from farmlands across America by the advent of the Dust Bowl and working their way west to California in the hopes of a better life.
Guthrie, considered an icon of American folk music, authored the nation's folk anthem "This Land is Your Land," among other distinctly American classics. Guthrie may have left Pampa, but Pampa never quite left Guthrie. Pampa locals Thelma Bray and Glenna Lea Miller established the Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center in 1991. Housed in Pampa's historic Harris Drug Store, one-time Guthrie employer, the Center serves as musical venue for live events throughout the year and a museum of relics that chronicle Woody's life and music.
The Woody Guthrie Folk Music Center strives to keep Woody's words and music alive and to provide a place for the public to visit a little part of Woody's world. Anyone may come to learn about, talk about, sing about, and add to Guthrie's legacy. The Center has a variety of books, recordings, drawings, and pictures from Woody's life. For those who might desire to play and sing, the Center is open on Friday nights for jams, stories, and fellowship. These evenings are open to the public, and visitors are welcome to pull up a chair to listen and learn.
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