Joan Baez is now enjoying the fifth decade of a career that has evolved with and encompassed
the changing musical and political times. As the most celebrated folksinger of her time, she has
been a major influence in the field of popular music, beginning with her first album, Joan Baez,
in 1960. A native of California, she and her family moved to Boston in 1958. She had her first
success at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959, which resulted in her first recording of traditional
folk songs the following year with Vanguard Records.
Her first album was following in quick succession by two more, Joan Baez, Vol. 2 in 1961,
and Joan Baez in Concert in 1962. All three albums went gold, and remained bestsellers for
two years. She crossed the country making concert tours and singing at festivals and political
Responding to the influence of world events, musical styles changed as the decade progressed.
By the mid-sixties, Baez had changed her repertoire to reflect the more socially conscious
popular song, as represented by the work of Bob Dylan. Her arrangements also evolved,
growing from simple guitar to full orchestra. Several more albums during these years brought
further success, including Farewell, Angelina and Any Day Now, an album of Dylan songs which
also went gold. It was the noted Mahler conductor, Maurice Abravanel, who persuaded her to
record the aria from Heitor Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras number 5 (Joan Baez 5 – 1964).
By the mid 1970's, Baez was writing her own songs, and reaching out to a pop/rock audience.
She recorded with several different labels over the following two decades, producing a string
of successful albums. Her music was influenced by her association with multiple political
causes, including the Civil Rights and Free Speech Movements, anti-war resistance in southeast
Asia, and anti-violence marches in Northern Ireland. She leant her musical presence to causes
celebrating civil rights, freedom, and the improvement of the human condition literally around
Through the 1980's and 90's, her performances included a Grammy Awards Live Aid telecast,
the Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope tour, and the People's Summit concert in Iceland
in conjunction with the Reagan/Gorbachev talks. She performed at Sarajevo in association with
Refugees International, and at the Kennedy Center Honors saluting Pete Seeger.
In 1995, she received her third Bammy as Outstanding Female Vocalist, and in 2007, was
presented with the Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. The year 2008 was a
landmark year for her, as she celebrated fifty years in performance, and recorded her 24th studio
album, Day After Tomorrow.