Joan Baez

Folk Singer

Joan Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician, and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace, and environmental justice. Baez has a distinctive vocal style, with a strong vibrato. Her recordings include many topical songs and material dealing with social issues. Baez began her career performing in coffeehouses in Boston and Cambridge, and rose to fame as an unbilled performer at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Joan Baez.


1941 Birth Baez was born on Staten Island, New York, on January 9, 1941.
1951 10 Years Old Due to her father's work in health care and with UNESCO, their family moved many times, living in towns across the U.S, as well as in England, France, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, and the Middle East, including Iraq, where they were in 1951. … Read More


1957 16 Years Old A few years later in 1957, Baez bought her first Gibson acoustic guitar.
1958 17 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1958, her father accepted a faculty position at MIT, and moved his family to Massachusetts. … Read More
1959 18 Years Old 1 More Event
Gibson invited Baez to perform with him at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, where the two sang two duets, "Virgin Mary Had One Son" and "We Are Crossing Jordan River". … Read More
1960 19 Years Old …  Despite this, the relationship remained intact for several years, long after the two moved to California together in 1960. … Read More


1962 21 Years Old …  On November 23, 1962, Baez appeared on the cover of Time Magazine—a rare honor then for a musician.
1965 24 Years Old 1 More Event
Though primarily an album artist, several of Baez' singles have charted, the first being her 1965 cover of Phil Ochs' "There but for Fortune", which became a mid-level chart hit in the U.S. and a top-ten single in the United Kingdom. … Read More
In 1968, Baez traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, where a marathon recording session resulted in two albums. … Read More
1969 28 Years Old In 1969, her appearance at Woodstock in upstate New York afforded her an international musical and political podium, particularly upon the successful release of the documentary film Woodstock (1970).
1970 29 Years Old Beginning in the late 1960s, Baez began writing many of her own songs, beginning with "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "A Song For David," both songs appearing on her 1970 (I Live) One Day at a Time album; "Sweet Sir Galahad" was written about her sister Mimi's second marriage, while "A Song For David" was a tribute to Harris. … Read More


After eleven years with Vanguard, Baez decided in 1971 to cut ties with the label that had released her albums since 1960. … Read More
1972 31 Years Old Half spoken word poem and half tape-recorded sounds, the song documented Baez's visit to Hanoi, North Vietnam, in December 1972, during which she and her traveling companions survived the 11-day-long Christmas Bombings campaign over Hanoi and Haiphong. (See Vietnam War in Civil rights section below.) … Read More
1973 32 Years Old …  Harris was released from Texas prison after 15 months, but the relationship began to dissolve and the couple divorced amicably in 1973. … Read More
1980 39 Years Old In 1980, Baez was given honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by Antioch University and Rutgers University for her political activism and the "universality of her music".


1983 - 1985 2 More Events
1986 45 Years Old She has toured on behalf of many other causes, including Amnesty International's 1986 A Conspiracy of Hope tour and a guest spot on their subsequent Human Rights Now! tour. … Read More
1987 46 Years Old In 1987, Baez's second autobiography called And a Voice to Sing With was published and became a New York Times bestseller. … Read More
1989 48 Years Old In May 1989, Baez performed at a music festival in communist Czechoslovakia, called Bratislavská lýra. … Read More


1993 52 Years Old In 1993, at the invitation of Refugees International and sponsored by the Soros Foundation, she traveled to the war-torn Bosnia and Herzegovina region of former-Yugoslavia in an effort to help bring more attention to the suffering there. … Read More
1996 55 Years Old She later returned for another concert in 1996.


2001 - 2005 6 More Events
Then, on January 13, 2006, Baez performed at the funeral of Lou Rawls, where she led Jesse Jackson, Sr., Wonder, and others in the singing of "Amazing Grace".
In February 2007, Proper Records reissued her live album Ring Them Bells (1995), which featured duets with artists ranging from Dar Williams and Mimi Fariña to the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. … Read More
Throughout most of her career, Baez remained apprehensive about involving herself in party politics. However, on February 3, 2008, Baez wrote a letter to the editor at the San Francisco Chronicle endorsing Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. … Read More
On June 25, 2009, Baez created a special version of "We Shall Overcome" with a few lines of Persian lyrics in support of peaceful protests by Iranian people. … Read More
2010 69 Years Old She performed at the White House on February 10, 2010, as part of an evening celebrating the music associated with the civil rights movement, performing "We Shall Overcome".
2011 70 Years Old 1 More Event
On March 18, 2011, Baez was honored by Amnesty International at its 50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting in San Francisco. … Read More
2013 72 Years Old 1 More Event
Although a highly political figure throughout most of her career, Baez had never publicly endorsed a major political party candidate prior to Obama. However, after Obama was elected, she expressed that she would likely never do so again, saying in a 2013 interview in The Huffington Post that "In some ways I'm disappointed, but in some ways it was silly to expect more. … Read More
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