Joan Chandos Baez was born in Staten Island, New York
on January 9, 1941 to the Scottish Joan Bridge and the Mexican Albert Baez. Through her parents, young Joan inherited a rich
multiethnic tradition. She was raised as a Quaker, which taught her to be peaceful, loving, and see everyone as equal-even
at such a young age. During her childhood, Joan and her family lived in various places all over the world, such as California,
Iran, Sweden, Paris and then finally settling in California.
In 1956, Joan hears a young Martin Luther King Jr. give a lecture
on non violence that influences her enormously. Also that year she bought her first guitar, starting her love affair with
A year later, Joan comitts her first act of civil disobedience by
refusing to leave her high school (Palo Alto High School) during an air-raid drill. She also meets a Ghandian scholar, Ira
Sandperl, who becomes one of her strongest political influences for several decades.
The middle child, older sister being the intelligent
and independent Pauline and the youngest being the beautiful and delicate Mimi (http://richardandmimi.com), Joan always felt lonely and insecure, until she discovered
music, and her talent for it. After her aunt took her to see Pete Seeger in concert, Joan's life was never the same. She realized
you didn't need to look like a Hollywood movie star to be famous. She used her beautiful voice and skillful guitar talents
to gain notice.
When her family moved to Massachusetts, Joan was first introduced
to the new bohemian folk scene that was blossoming in Cambridge.
In 1959, the 19 year old Joan Baez made her
debut at the Newport Folk Festival, and from there her career took off. She was quickly signed to Vanguard music, and began
production on her first album.
In 1963, Joan refuses to appear on and leads
a much-publicized artist boycott of ABC-TV's Hootenanny show due to their banning of Pete Seeger as a result of his political
Known for her political outspokeness and peaceful
activism, Joan became the spokeswoman for the 60's generation. Her music became the soundtrack to many protests
against the Vietnam war, along with that of Bob Dylan's, who Joan would have a famous affair with from 1963 to 1965.
They had begun their affair after they performed together at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, and serperated around the
time of Dylan's 1965 tour of England (documented in "Don't Look Back").
In 1965 Baez founded the Institute
for the Study of Nonviolence (now called the Resource Center for Nonviolence) in Palo Alto, California. While her pacifist
activities drew praise and wholehearted support from some, they also drew anger from others. U.S. Army bases all over the
world banned her albums.
Also, to protest the Vietnam
War, Baez refused to pay the 60 percent of her federal income taxes she believed went to support the U.S. Defense Department
and its war effort. The Internal Revenue
Service responds by placing a lien against her. She continues to withhold portions of her taxes for the next ten years. And
after performing for President Johnson in Washington, she urges him to withdraw U.S. troops from Vietnam. Joan also continues
her civil right work by appearing at a benefit concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, protesting the state's Proposition
14 which would allow segregated housing, and she becomes involved with the Free Speech Movement at the University of California
at Berkeley. As the students take over Sproul Hall, Joan instructs them to "Have love as you do this thing and it will succeed."
The police wait until she departs the building before moving in and arresting 800 students.
A rising national leader in the growing protest
movements of the 1960s, Baez soon considered her work for social change more important than her performing career.
Several months later she was arrested and jailed
for her active opposition to the Vietnam War draft.
On March 26, 1968, Joan marries activest David
Harris and she later gives birth to their child, a son named Gabrielle.
In one of the highlights of her career, Baez
performed at the famous Woodstock Music Festival, held near Bethel, New York, during the summer of 1969. The five-day event
brought together some of the most important popular musicians of the decade. The concert, with its theme of "five days of
peace, love, and music," drew more than 500,000 people from all over America.
During the 1970's Baez managed to continued her musical career and her social and political activities.
She recorded Robbie Robertson's (of the Band) compostion "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," for her album Blessed
Are... album, and it became one of the most popular songs of 1972 and Baez's biggest commercial hit.
Baez released her second autobiography
(her first being 1968's Daybreak) And A
Voice To Sing With in 1987.
In 1988 she toured the Middle East, hoping
to find solutions to the conflicts between the area's warring countries. In 1991 she announced plans to develop low-income
housing in California. Two years later she toured the city of Sarajevo in war-torn Bosnia and Hercegovina (part of the former
Yugoslavia), seeking a peaceful end to the conflict there.
Baez's powerful and wide-ranging voice is what first brought
her fame, and it has endured well throughout the years. In an early review in the New York Times, Bob Shelton wrote that her
voice was "as lustrous and rich as old gold."
Baez's 1993 release, Play Me Backwards,
was nominated for a Grammy award for best contemporary folk album. Many critics considered it the best album of her long career.
Most recently Joan Baez released her album Dark Chords On A Big Guitar, an album dedicated to controversial
film maker Micheal Moore.
Miss Baez has just finished one of her long tours, and is spending her time to
relaxing at her home in California.