Joan Baez - Songs


Joan Baez (b. January 9, 1941) is a highly acclaimed and influential folk rock singer, songwriter, and activist with a luminous soprano who became famous beginning in the early 1960s. Her best known songs include the haunting "Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word" (1969), the rousing "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (1971), and the autobiographical "Diamonds And Rust" (1975), as well as "We Shall Overcome" (1963) and other songs that advocate social justice.

Born in Staten Island, New York, she played the ukulele as a child and later learned the guitar. She spent much of her formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area and began performing folk music publicly in her teens. In 1958, after graduating from high school, her physicist father accepted a faculty position at MIT and moved the family to Boston, then a major hub for folk music. While attending Boston University, Baez gave her first concerts at the famous Club 47 (later renamed Club Passim) in nearby Cambridge and, with two other fellow performers, recorded her first album, "Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square," which was released on Veritas Records. Her first major career breakthrough came in 1959 when she met folk music icon Bob Gibson who invited her to perform with him at the inaugural Newport Folk Festival, which led to offers from such top labels as Columbia. She opted for Vanguard, a small independent label where she felt she would have more artistic freedom. In 1960, Joan Baez released her critically acclaimed eponymous debut album, and by the early 1960s, she had become an iconic figure in both folk music and social activism and performed frequently at rallies and demonstrations in support of such causes as civil rights and nonviolence. Her appearance at the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival further solidified her fame internationally in both the musical and political realms.

Joan Baez debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1963 with her stirring rendition of the gospel-infused civil rights movement protest anthem, "We Shall Overcome." Other signature songs include her covers of the Bob Dylan-penned "Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word" (1969), the Robbie Robertson-penned "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (1971), and the self-penned "Diamonds And Rust" (1975). Her long string of hits, which continued through 1975 on both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts, also includes Phil Ochs' "There But For Fortune" (1965), "The Little Drummer Boy" (1966), The Beatles' "Let It Be" (1971), "In The Quiet Morning" (1972), and "Blue Sky" (1975).

Since her commercial peak in the 1960s and 1970s, Joan Baez continued to record and perform actively through the late 2010s. She released her Grammy-nominated final studio album in 2018, "Whistle Down The Wind," and wrapped up her farewell tour in 2019. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, and her numerous other accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2007) and a Kennedy Center Honor (2020). Her 1960 eponymous debut album was honored many years later by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences in 2011 and selected in 2015 for induction into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress.



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Joan Baez

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