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Who Is Joan Baez?
When Joan Baez shared a bill with the Indigo Girls about 20 years ago, a young fan approached, asking for an autograph — for his grandmother. Today, in the airy kitchen of her home near Palo Alto, California, with its view of the Santa Cruz Mountains and a painting of a nude woman above the fireplace, Baez winces at the memory. Baez, 76, loves to play against her image as the serene, hyperserious matriarch of folk music. Resting her chin on her hand, she flashes her recent metal-chick tattoo: a series of circles and arrows that rings her right wrist, from a visit to New Zealand with her son, Gabe. With Donald Trump in the White House, rock is entering a new protest era, and Baez is helping lead the way. Sitting in her kitchen, she grabs a guitar and begins fingerpicking a Guthrie-esque melody. She starts singing — about a wall, lies, a missing wife.
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After finding ways to embrace changes in her vocal range, the year-old folk singer has released an album that she is calling her final recording. By Alan Light. Just as the folk music icon and pioneering activist has unlocked a fresh reserve of cultural resonance, however, she has decided to step back. At 77, Ms.
Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages. Baez is generally regarded as a folk singer , but her music has diversified since the counterculture era of the s and encompasses genres such as folk rock , pop , country and gospel music. She began her recording career in and achieved immediate success. She was one of the first major artists to record the songs of Bob Dylan in the early s; Baez was already an internationally celebrated artist and did much to popularize his early songwriting efforts. Baez performed fourteen songs at the Woodstock Festival and has displayed a lifelong commitment to political and social activism in the fields of nonviolence , civil rights , human rights and the environment. Her father, Albert Baez — , was born in Puebla , Mexico  and grew up in Brooklyn , New York, where his father preached to—and advocated for—a Spanish-speaking congregation. Albert was later credited as a co-inventor of the x-ray microscope.