Social justice is the true core of my life,
looming larger than music.
Joan Chandos Baez (born 1/9/41) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. She 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. 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. 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.
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Baez was born in Staten Island, New York, on January 9, 1941. Her grandfather, the Reverend Alberto Baez, left the Catholic Church to become a Methodist minister and moved to the U.S. when her father was two years old. Her father, Albert Baez (1912–2007), was born in Puebla, Mexico, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where his father preached to—and advocated for—a Spanish-speaking congregation. Albert first considered becoming a minister but instead turned to the study of mathematics and physics and received his PhD degree at Stanford University in 1950. Albert was later credited as a co-inventor of the x-ray microscope. Joan’s cousin, John C. Baez, is a mathematical physicist. Her mother, Joan Chandos Baez (née Bridge), referred to as Joan Senior or “Big Joan”, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the second daughter of an English Anglican priest who claimed to be descended from the Dukes of Chandos.
The Baez family converted to Quakerism during Joan’s early childhood, and she has continued to identify with the tradition, particularly in her commitment to pacifism and social issues. While growing up, Baez was subjected to racial slurs and discrimination because of her Mexican heritage. Consequently, she became involved with a variety of social causes early in her career. She declined to play in any white student venues that were segregated, which meant that when she toured the Southern states, she would play only at black colleges.
Owing to her father’s work 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. Joan Baez became involved with a variety of social causes early in her career, including civil rights and non-violence.
Official website: here