Joan Chandos Baez (/baɪz/; born January 9, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. Her contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest and social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing more than 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages.
Baez is generally regarded as a folk singer, but her music has diversified since the counterculture era of the 1960s and encompasses genres such as folk rock, pop, country, and gospel music. She began her recording career in 1960 and achieved immediate success. Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 and Joan Baez in Concert, all achieved gold record status. Although a songwriter herself, Baez generally interprets other composers' work, having recorded songs by the Allman Brothers Band, the Beatles, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Woody Guthrie, Violeta Parra, the Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, and many others. She was one of the first major artists to record the songs of Bob Dylan in the early 1960s; Baez was already an internationally celebrated artist and did much to popularize his early songwriting efforts. Her tumultuous relationship with Dylan later became the subject of songs from both and generated much public speculation. On her later albums she has found success interpreting the work of more recent songwriters, including Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter, Steve Earle, Natalie Merchant, and Joe Henry.
Baez's acclaimed songs include "Diamonds & Rust" and covers of Phil Ochs's "There but for Fortune" and The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". She is also known for "Farewell, Angelina", "Love Is Just a Four-Letter Word", "Forever Young", "Here's to You", "Joe Hill", "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "We Shall Overcome". Baez performed fourteen songs at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and has displayed a lifelong commitment to political and social activism in the fields of nonviolence, civil rights, human rights, and the environment. Baez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7, 2017.
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On art, activism, and letting things goThe Creative Independent (January 7, 2019)