Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman ; May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, painter and poet. He has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was at first an informal chronicler, and later an apparently reluctant figurehead, of social unrest. A number of his songs such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'" became anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements. His early lyrics incorporated a variety of political, social and philosophical, as well as literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed hugely to the then burgeoning counterculture. Dylan has both amplified and personalized musical genres, exploring numerous distinct traditions in American song – from folk, blues and country to gospel, rock and roll and rockabilly, to English, Scottish and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and swing.
Dylan performs with guitar, piano and harmonica. Backed by a changing line-up of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but his greatest contribution is generally considered to be his songwriting.
He has received numerous awards over the years including Grammy, Golden Globe and Academy Awards; he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008 a Bob Dylan Pathway was opened in the singer's honor in his birthplace of Duluth, Minnesota. The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008 awarded him a special citation for what they called his profound impact on popular music and American culture, "marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."
Dylan released his most recent studio album, Christmas in the Heart, on October 13, 2009. It comprised traditional Christmas songs, including "Here Comes Santa Claus" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". All Dylan's royalties from the sale of this album will benefit the charities Feeding America in the USA, Crisis in the UK, and the World Food Programme.