Joan Chandos Baez (born January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York) is a folk singer and songwriter known for her highly individual vocal style. Many of her songs are topical and deal with social issues. Baez has performed publicly for over 50 years, released over 30 albums and recorded songs in at least eight languages. She is considered a folk singer although her music has strayed from folk considerably after the 1960s, encompassing everything from rock and pop to country and gospel.
Baez first got a taste of commercial success when the single "There But For Fortune," written by Phil Ochs, became a top-ten hit in the UK in 1965. She has a three-octave vocal range and a distinctively rapid vibrato.
In 1974's Gracias a la Vida (written and first performed by Chilean folk singer Violeta Parra) followed and was a success in both the United States and Latin America. Flirting with mainstreampop music as well as writing her own songs for her best-selling 1975 release Diamonds & Rust, the album became the highest selling of Baez's career and spawned a second top-ten single in the form of the title track, a nostalgic piece about her ill-fated relationship with Bob Dylan.
In 1980, Joan was given Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees by Antioch University and Rutgers University for her political activism and the "universality of her music." In 1983, she appeared on the Grammy Awards for the first time, performing Bob Dylan's anthemic "Blowin' in the Wind," a song she first performed twenty years earlier. Baez also played a significant role in the 1985 Live Aid concert for African famine relief, opening the U.S. Segment of the show in Philadelphia.
In September, Baez contributed a live, retooled version of her classic song "Sweet Sir Galahad" toStarbucks' exclusive XM Artist Confidential CD. In the new version, Joan changes the lyric "here's to the dawn of their days" to "here's to the dawn ofher days," as a tribute to her late sister Mimi Fariña, about whom Baez wrote the song in 1969.
In February 2007, Baez received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The day after receiving the honor, she appeared at the Grammy ceremony and introduced a performance by The Dixie Chicks.
She is perhaps best known for her hit "Diamonds & Rust" and her covers of Phil Ochs' "There But For Fortune" and The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" (a top-five single on the U.S. Charts in 1971), and to a lesser extent,"We Shall Overcome," "Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word" and "Farewell Angelina," "Sweet Sir Galahad" and "Joe Hill" (songs she performed at the 1969 Woodstock festival). She remains known for her long relationship with Bob Dylan and her lifelong passion for activism, notably in the areas of nonviolence, civil, human rights and, more recently, the environment. [wikipedia]