Photo by Ed Flores

Publishing two novels and writing nearly 3,000 songs during his lifetime, including the well-known “This Land is Your Land,” singer-songwriter and folk musician Woody Guthrie has become an American icon.

Arizona Theatre Company is telling his story with Woody Guthrie’s American Song, a performance showing at the Herberger Theater through January 16.

The play traces the history of both Guthrie and America from the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression to World War II.

A “dust bowl refugee,” Guthrie headed to California in the 1930s in search of work, where he landed his own radio show singing old-time music and voicing his concerns for migrant workers, the play guide states. His presence became comforting to these displaced workers, and Guthrie allied with the them along with unions and other Americans who were seen as outsiders.

In 1940, he traveled to New York where he recorded Dust Bowl Ballads, his first album of original music for RCA Victor Records. While serving in World War II, he wrote military rally songs and songs against fascism.

At the end of the 1940s and in the early 1950s, fear of communism spread through America and Guthrie, along with other artists, was blacklisted for preaching about the working class, unionism and free speech.

“Whether fighting for the unions, hopping a train, or expressing outrage at inequality, Woody Guthrie’s life and music celebrate what it means to be an American,” the play guide says.

Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 602.256.6995 or at the door. Prices start at $35.

The Herberger Theater is located at 222 E. Monroe St. (light rail station at 3rd Street and Washington/Jefferson)