John Mellencamp’s career in music, spanning more than 35 years, has seen him transition from pop star to one of the most highly respected singer/songwriters of a generation. Mellencamp is incredibly acclaimed; a recent nominee to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, he is also member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Grammy winner, a recipient of the John Steinbeck Award, ASCAP Foundation’s Champion Award, The Woody Guthrie Award and Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award and more recently, the Founders Award, the top honor assigned by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. He is also one of the most successful live concert performers in the world. The social activism reflected in his songs helped catalyze Farm Aid, the concert series and organization that has addressed the struggle of American family farmers for more than 25 years. John Mellencamp’s latest album, Sad Clowns & Hillbillies, featuring Carlene Carter, is his 23rd over the course of a remarkable career and was released on April 28, 2017. Sad Clowns & Hillbillies returns Mellencamp to the musical eclecticism that is, itself, a reflection of his wide-ranging musings on life and showcases a poet who has wisely used the years between youth and the present day to become an absolute master of songwriting and interpretation. That passion and experience resonates most beautifully in this showcase of his music. John also wrote the title song for the 2017 film The Yellow Birds.
John continues to focus on another facet of his artistic expression: painting. His style has progressed over the years as evidenced by several gallery shows and published portfolios, and in recent years he has increased his output by completing over 100 new works. His pieces were shown in 2012 at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville under the under the title “Nothing Like I Planned: The Art Of John Mellencamp” and, more recently at the Butler Institute of American Art in an exhibition entitled “The Paintings Of John Mellencamp.” “The Paintings of John Mellencamp” traveled to the Museum of Art-DeLand, Florida and John’s art was showcased at the ACA Gallery in New York. The unique instrumentation of his band and his poignant songs about everyday life in the American heartland, are widely credited with being the forbearer of the Americana/No Depression genre of rural-inflected music. An extraordinary collaboration performed by an ensemble cast of 15 actors and a four-piece live band, comprised of members of John Mellencamp’s band is The Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, a musical with music and lyrics by John Mellencamp, a libretto by author Stephen King and production by T Bone Burnett. The show is being further developed in London, though King and Mellencamp are no longer as actively involved. Mellencamp continues his journey as the walking embodiment of heartland rock; passionate, plain-spoken, and a self-proclaimed rebel.