Famous Like Me > Composer > B > Joan Baez
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Profile of Joan Baez
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||9th January 1941
|Place of Birth:
||Staten Island, New York, USA
Joan Chandos Báez (born January 9, 1941) is an American folk singer and songwriter known for her distinctive vocal style as well as her outspoken activism and political views.
Joan Baez was born in Staten Island, New York, into a Quaker family of Mexican, English and Scottish descent. Her father Albert Baez, a physicist, refused lucrative defense industry jobs, probably influencing Joan's political activism in the American and international civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s to the present. The family, frequently having to move by reason of his work, lived in different towns across the US, in France, Switzerland, Italy, and the Middle East, where they stayed in 1951. Baez, at the time only ten years old, was deeply impressed by the poverty and the inhuman treatment the local population in Baghdad suffered from. In the late 1950s, Dr. Baez accepted a faculty position at MIT, and moved his family to the Boston area, at the time the epicenter of the up-and-coming folk music scene, and Joan began performing locally in Boston/Cambridge area clubs, and attended Boston University. Her most noted venue was the Club 47 Mount Auburn, in Cambridge, where she performed twice a week for $20 per show. It was with other performers from the same club that she recorded her first album, Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square.
Baez' true professional career began at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival and she recorded her first album for a major company, Joan Baez, the following year on Vanguard Records. The collection of traditional folk ballads, blues and laments sung to her own guitar accompaniment sold moderately well. Her second release, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 in 1961 went gold, as did, Joan Baez in Concert, parts 1 and 2 (released in 1962 and 1963, respectively). From the early to mid-1960s, Baez emerged at the forefront of the American roots revival, where she introduced her audiences to the less prominent Bob Dylan (the two became romantically involved in late 1962, remaining together through early 1965), and was emulated by artists such as Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt.
During this period, as the war in Vietnam and the Civil Rights struggle in America both became more prominent issues, Baez focused more of her attention on both areas, until eventually her music and her political involvement became inseparable. Her performance of "We Shall Overcome" at Martin Luther King's March on Washington permanently linked her with the anthem, and was frequently highly visible in Civil Rights marches. She also became more vocal about her disagreement with the U.S. war in Vietnam, publicly disclosing that she was withholding sixty percent of her income taxes (as that was the figure commonly determined to fund the military), and encouraging draft resistance at her concerts. In 1965 she founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence.
Like Dylan, Baez was profoundly influenced by the British Invasion and began augmenting her acoustic guitar on 1965s Farewell Angelina just after Dylan began experimenting with folk-rock. Later in the decade, Baez experimented with poetry (1968s Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time) and country music (1969s David's Album and 1970s One Day at a Time).
In 1968, Baez married David Harris, a prominent anti-Vietnam War protester eventually imprisoned for draft evasion. The couple divorced in 1973. Harris, a country music fan, turned Baez toward more complex country rock influences beginning with David's Album. That same year, Baez' appearance at the historic Woodstock music festival in upstate New York afforded her an international musical and political podium, particularly upon the successful release of the like-titled documentary film. Her 1971 cover of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by (The Band) was a top 10 hit in the US.
Meanwhile, Baez' political involvement had by no means ceased. During Christmas of 1972, she joined a peace delegation traveling to North Vietnam, both to address human rights in the region, as well as to deliver Christmas mail to American POW's. During her time there, she was caught in Richard Nixon's "Christmas bombing" of Hanoi, during which the city was bombed for eleven straight days. She also devoted a substantial amount of her time in the early 1970s to helping establish a U.S. branch of Amnesty International, and has since worked on improving human rights, both in Latin America and Southeast Asia. She toured Chile, Brazil and Argentina in 1981, but was prevented from performing in any of the three countries, fearful her criticism of their human rights practices would reach mass audiences, if she were given a podium. (A film of the ill-fated tour, There but for Fortune, was shown on PBS in 1982.)
With 1972s Come from the Shadows, Baez switched to A&M Records, flirting with mainstream pop music as well as writing her own songs for her best-selling 1975 release Diamonds & Rust. She switched to CBS Records briefly during the late 1970s, but found herself without an American label for the release of 1984s Live -Europe '83. She didn't have an American release until 1987s Recently on Gold Castle Records, and then switched to Virgin Records for 1992s Play Me Backwards. Her 2003 album, Dark Chords on a Big Guitar, found her performing songs by composers half her age, while a November 2004 performance at New York's Bowery Ballroom was recorded for a 2005 live release, Bowery Songs.
Baez played a significant role in the 1985 Live Aid concert for African famine relief, opening the U.S. segment of the show in Philadelphia. She also has toured on behalf of many other causes, including Amnesty International.
Baez toured with Bob Dylan in 1964 and 1965, during his 1975 and 1976 Rolling Thunder Revue tours, and, abortively, in Europe in 1984. At one time she was romantically linked to Steve Jobs.
In August 2005, Baez appeared at the Texas anti-war protest that had been started by Cindy Sheehan. The following month, she sang Amazing Grace at the Temple in Black Rock City during the annual Burning Man festival as part of a tribute to New Orleans and the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Joan Baez has a son, Gabriel Harris. Her sister was the singer and guitarist Mimi Farina (born Margarita Mimi Baez [1945-2001])who died of neuroendocrine cancer (http://music.yahoo.com/read/news/12049281). The mathematical physicist and Usenet guru, John Carlos Baez (b. 1961), is her cousin. She is a resident of Woodside, California.
- Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square (1959)
- "Joan Baez", Vanguard (November 1960)
- Joan Baez, Vol. 2, Vanguard (October 1961)
- Joan Baez in Concert, Vanguard (September 1962)
- Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2, Vanguard (November 1963)
- Joan Baez/5, Vanguard (November 1964)
- Farewell Angelina, Vanguard (November 1965)
- Noel, Vanguard (December 1966)
- Joan, Vanguard (August 1967)
- Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time, Vanguard (June 1968)
- Any Day Now (Songs of Bob Dylan), Vanguard (December 1968)
- David's Album, Vanguard (May 1969)
- One Day at a Time, Vanguard (January 1970)
- Blessed Are..., Vanguard (1971)
- Come from the Shadows, A&M (April 1972)
- Where Are You Now, My Son?, A&M (March 1973)
- Gracias A la Vida, A&M (July 1974)
- Diamonds & Rust, A&M (April 1975)
- From Every Stage, A&M (February 1976)
- Gulf Winds, A&M (November 1976)
- Blowin' Away, CBS (July 1977)
- Honest Lullaby, CBS (April 1979)
- Live -Europe '83, Gamma (January 1984)
- Recently, Gold Castle (July 1987)
- Speaking of Dreams, Gold Castle (November 1989)
- Play Me Backwards, Virgin (October 1992)
- Ring Them Bells, Guardian (August 1995)
- Gone from Danger, Guardian (September 1997)
- Dark Chords on a Big Guitar, Koch (October 2003)
- Bowery Songs, Koch (September 2005)
- The First 10 Years, Vanguard (November 1970)
- The Joan Baez Ballad Book, Vanguard (1972)
- Hits: Greatest and Others, Vanguard (1973)
- The Contemporary Ballad Book, Vanguard (1974)
- The Joan Baez Lovesong Album, Vanguard (1976)
- The Joan Baez Country Music Album (1977)
- Best of Joan C. Baez, A&M (1977)
- Joan Baez: Classics, A&M (1986)
- Brothers in Arms, Gold Castle (1991)
- Rare, Live & Classic (boxed set), Vanguard (1993)
- Greatest Hits, A&M (1996)
- Best of Joan Baez: The Millennium Collection, A&M/Universal (1999)
- The Complete A&M Recordings, Universal/A&M (2003)
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