Joan Baez breathed new life into folk music in the 1960s, powering rock music's turn toward social and political consciousness. Gifted with a natural singing voice and influenced by an early appreciation of opera, her career really took off following a performance at Newport Folk Festival in 1959, her first self-titled album coming out the following year. In these early days Baez was at the core of the American roots music revival where she championed a barely known at the time Bob Dylan and paved the way for other artists like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris. Although a talented songwriter herself, it’s Joan Baez’s interpretation of other writer’s work that really stands out. At the age of 13 she was taken to see Pete Seeger whose performance inspired her to start learning some of his repertoire and perform publicly. It’s Baez’s version of ‘We Shall Overcome’ that became prominent during the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s; she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and performed the song at rallies. Her social activism has provoked and inspired, encouraging many other performers who followed to stand up for their beliefs.
All archival materials related to Joan Baez can be found here. Listed below are notable collections and items of interest.
Jane Scott Papers, 1977-1996
Rock critic for the Plain Dealer, 1952-2002. This collection specifically includes materials related to Joan Baez including interview notes from 1977, photographic materials, and tickets, press, and backstage passes from 1996.
Michael Ochs Collection, 1963-1991
Creator of the Michael Ochs Archives for rock and roll photographs. This collection includes a folder of business papers for Joan Baez spanning the years from 1963-1991. It also includes a 1969 press kit.
Sing Out! Records Collection, 1960-2008
Folk music magazine collection that includes photographs and documents related to Joan Baez.
Bootleg Concert Recording, 1964, 1966
Bootleg cassette recording of a concert with Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in 1964 (Side A) and Dublin, 1966 (Side B). 90 minutes.
Concert Poster, 1975
Concert poster for the Rolling Thunder Revue with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Jack Elliott, and Bob Neuwirth.
"Rock and roll is protest's friend, not its foe" (The Word, 2012).
"I have no doubts music can transform things. But after the emotional transformation and connection has to come real work, and commitment" (Village View, 1989).
"You could say that I'm anti-kill...I don't understand certain American policies like the Vietnam war and I intend to say that I think it is wrong. I can make people aware of injustices through my songs" (NME, December 1965).
"I'm still ticking people off wherever I play, thank God. I pride myself on doing my work right" (Village View, 1989).
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