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Joan Baez

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(1959 – present)

Joan Baez, born on January 9th, 1941, is an American singer and a songwriter who is of mixed Mexican and Scottish descent. Baez rose to prominence in the early ’60s with her stunning renditions of traditional balladry.

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Baez came into her songwriting own, penning many songs (most notably “Diamonds & Rust,” a nostalgic piece about her ill-fated romance with Bob Dylan, and “Sweet Sir Galahad,” a song about sister Mimi Fariña’s ( of Richard & Mimi Fariña fame) second marriage, and continued to meld her songcraft with topical issues. She was outspoken in her disapproval of the Vietnam war and later the CIA-backed coups in many Latin American countries.

She was also instrumental in the Civil Rights movement, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King on many occassions and being jailed for her beliefs. In 1963, her performance of “We Shall Overcome” at the Lincoln Memorial just prior to Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream…” speech helped confirm the song as the Civil Rights anthem.

In December 1972, she traveled to Hanoi, North Vietnam, and was caught in that country’s “Christmas Campaign,” in which the U.S. bombed the city more times than any other during the entire war. While pregnant with her only son, Gabriel, she performed a handful of songs in the middle of the night on day one of the 1969 Woodstock festival. She is considered the “Queen of Folk” for being at the forefront of the 1960s and inspiring generations of female folksingers that followed. Over fifty years after she first began singing publicly in 1958, Joan Baez continues to tour, demonstrate in favor of human rights and nonviolence, and release albums for a world of devoted fans.

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