Hello, I’m Joan Baez. I was born on January 9, 1941, and I am currently 72 years old. I originate as a notable folk songrwriter/artist from the “Counter Culture” Era of the 1960’s. Initially, “folk music” drew form some of the black musical traditons of the South, from the white country music of Appalachia. The folk-music tradition expanded to include the song styles - particularly the blues - of Southern blacks, and to the extents of Native American pow-pow, Mexican-American tejano, and Cajun zydeco musics.
Folk music has been traditionally sung in churches, on front porches, in the fields and other workplaces, while rocking children to sleep, and at parties. The purpose of folk music has always been to express ethnic cultures, and to communicate the hopes, sorrows and convictions of ordinary people's daily lives. Although, I have helped turn the meaning of folk music into a more intimate, acoustic style, reflecting the changing times in America and the world during the 1960’s.When I was real young, a friend of my father’s gave me a ukulele, which lead me to learn four chords and I ended up learning how to play the rhythm and blues.
Although my parents held the preconceived notion that music would lead me to drug addiction, I proved them otherwise. When I was 8, at my aunt's request, I attended a concert by “Popular Front” folk musician Pete Seeger, and found myself strongly moved by his music to the point that I began performing his songs publicly.My first public performance was in Saratoga, California, for a youth group from Temple Beth Jacob, a Redwood City, California, congregation. In 1957, I bought my first Gibson acoustic guitar. In 1958, my father accepted a faculty position at MIT, and moved my family to Massachusetts.
At that time, it was within the center of the up-and-coming folk-music scene, and I began performing near home in Boston and nearby Cambridge. I also performed in clubs, and attended Boston University for about six weeks, where I only sporadically attended classes, and wanted to rather pursue further in my music career.I was invited by famous gospel singer, Gibson to perform with him at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, where we sang two duets, "Virgin Mary Had One Son" and "We Are Crossing Jordan River". Since this performance generated such substantial praise for me, as the "barefoot Madonna", it was this appearance that led to me signing with Vanguard Records the following year, which I thought was a more “low key” deal than to be signed to Colombia Records. The Folk or “Roots” Music Revival, which I, along with ther popular singers/songwriters, such as Bob Dylan, pioneered amongst the leftist youth culture in the early 1960’s resulted in the development of rock music, bringing in elements of psychedelia, helping to develop the ideas of the singer-songwriter, the protest song and concepts of "authenticity". My music highlights on the tumultuous period of massive unrest due to the telling events of the Cold War, Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement.
Through my unique vocal style and strong vibrato, I have been able to express my most strong values and concerns that I have for our government and its people.Namely, my song “Oh, Freedom” sang on the morning of August 23rd, 1963 at Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Rally in Washington D. C. in front of a sea of people, demonstrates the defiant refrain from accepting social constraints, primarily those of slavery, desegregation, disenfranchisement, and discrimination, as I convey in the line "Before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave.
" (Play song) Although, I became more vocal about my disagreement with the U. S. ar in Vietnam, publicly disclosing that I was withholding 60 percent of my income taxes, in which commonly determined to fund the military, and encouraging draft resistance at my concerts. In 1965, in reaction to Vietnam, I founded the Institute for the Study of Nonviolence.
I was also arrested twice in 1967 in Oakland, California, for blocking an armed forces induction center. Besides politics, I wrote songs about personal and sentiment, like “A Song for David” in 1969 for my then-husband who was incarcerated for draft resistance.This song expresses my true conviction, insistence and love, as I had longed to reunite with my husband, promising that “I will sit and I'll wait by the stony gate”. (Play song). My success came with my first three albums, Joan Baez (1961), Joan Baez, Vol. 2 Part 1 (1962) and Part 2 (1963), and Joan Baez in Concert, which all achieved gold record status, and stayed on the charts of hit albums for two years.
I introduced Bob Dylan to the folk scene, as we formed an unofficial music partnership together, and had an unofficial romance from 1962 to 1965.I also premiered in Woodstock in 1969, where I sang “Joe Hill”, a song about a Swedish migrant worker and labor activist, and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”, which was a song about freedom. I was profoundly influenced by the ‘Beatles’ British Invasion, and began to use more of my acoustic guitar on my 1965 album, Farewell Angelina, shifting my traditional folk style to an electric backup. In the late 1960s, I experimented with poetry, writing the album Baptism: A Journey Through Our Time in 1969, featuring spoken and sung poetry, the country music David's Album also in 1969, and One Day at a Time in 1969.
Near the decade's end, her autobiography, Daybreak (1968), was released. I continued to be active politically and musically in the 1970s. I helped establish the west coast branch of Amnesty International, a human rights organization, and released numerous albums, including the critically acclaimed Diamonds and Rust (1975). In addition to touring, I also performed at many benefits and fundraisers for social and political causes around the world. My most recent studio album was 2003's Dark Chords on a Big Guitar.I followed up with a collection of live tracks in 2005 on Bowery Songs, which featured songs by Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as well as some traditional folk songs.
Not only did I, like other folk musicians, intend for the folk message to bring political attention to the consumerist culture of modern America, but I and others strove to promote the “real” America that we believe was rooted in the Marxist ideals of sharing and community, unhindered by the media of television and radio.