Joan Chandos Baez moved with her family from Palo Alto to Boston in 1958. Aged 17 she entered as a freshman at Boston University School Of Drama, where she was surrounded by a musical group of friends who shared a passion for folk music.
A stunning soprano, Joan’s natural vibrato lent a taut, nervous tension to everything she sang. Yet even as an 18-year old, introduced onstage at the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, her repertoire reflected a different sensibility from her peers. In the traditional songs she mastered, there was an acknowledgment of the human condition.
She remains a musical force of nature whose influence is incalculable – marching on the front line of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr., inspiring Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic. She brought the Free Speech Movement into the spotlight, took to the fields with Cesar Chavez, organized resistance to the war in Southeast Asia, then forty years later saluted the Dixie Chicks for their courage to protest against war.
On the night of February 11, 2007, at the 49th annual Grammy Awards telecast viewed by more than a billion people worldwide, it was announced that Joan Baez had received the highly prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, the greatest honor that the Recording Academy can bestow. In turn, she introduced the live performance of “Not Ready To Make Nice” by dark horse nominees the Dixie Chicks. It was an ironic moment, as Joan’s ‘lifetime’ of activism resonated in sync with the trio. They had been blacklisted by country radio and the Academy Of Country Music (ACM) when they criticized the President and the impending war in Iraq back in March 2003.
More than 50 years on, she continues to show renewed vitality and passion in her concerts and records.