Tag Archives: Joan Baez

Happy Birthday, Joan Baez

9 Jan

Today is folk music and social justice pioneer Joan Baez’ 72nd birthday. Born on Staten Island to a Mexican Catholic and a Scots Anglican, Baez was heavily influenced by the pacifist messages delivered when the family converted to Quakerism. She demonstrated her musical talent early on, and began performing in the late 50s. Fluent in English and Spanish, she has recorded in both (as well as six other languages).

After moving to New York City in 1960, she began performing more protest-based music along with her other folk repertoire. She soon met a young Bob Dylan and recorded a number of his songs. The two regularly performed together and developed a strong shared commitment to social justice. They both performed at the 1963 March on Washington. Baez also performed at Woodstock, viewing the festival as a statement against government oppression.

Throughout her career, Baez has been an outspoken proponent of social justice. A strong feminist, she is also a staunch defender of LGBT rights. She regularly performs benefits to relieve poverty and homelessness–sounds like a great social worker to me!. The overview of her involvement looks like a directory of social causes, and she is energetic for each one. She isn’t slowing down, either. Despite her distate for political partisanship, she recognized the true dangers of the GOP platform and endoresed her first major candidate with Barack Obama. She also participated actively in the Occupy protests, singing to raise money to support the cause.

In March of last year, Amnesty International created the Joan Baez Award for Outstanding Inspirational Service in the Global Fight for Human Rights. At the launching celebration, she was presented with the first award in recognition of her human rights work with Amnesty International and beyond, and the inspiration she has given activists around the world. In future years, the award is to be presented to an artist – music, film, sculpture, paint or other medium – who has similarly helped advance human rights. What a powerful and fitting legacy for this tireless worker for rights for all.

Moment in Women’s History: Joan Baez

9 Jan

Today is folk music and social justice pioneer Joan Baez’ 71st birthday. Born on Staten Island to a Mexican Catholic and a Scots Anglican, Baez was heavily influenced by the pacifist messages delivered when the family converted to Quakerism. She demonstrated her musical talent early on, and began performing in the late 50s. Fluent in English and Spanish, she has recorded in both (as well as six other languages).

After moving to New York City in 1960, she began performing more protest-based music along with her other folk repertoire. She soon met a young Bob Dylan and recorded a number of his songs. The two regularly performed together and developed a strong shared commitment to social justice. They both performed at the 1963 March on Washington. Baez also performed at Woodstock, viewing the festival as a statement against government oppression.

Throughout her career, Baez has been an outspoken proponent of social justice. A strong feminist, she is also a staunch defender of LGBT rights. She regularly performs benefits to relieve poverty and homelessness. Happy birthday to a real champion of human rights!

Today is also the date that Carrie Chapman Catt was born in 1859. Happy birthday to this suffragist pioneer.

Women’s History: April 2

2 Apr

Happy Birthday, Emmylou

Happy Birthday, Emmylou Harris. While Harris is widely known for her contribution to country music, and more specifically folk music, she also uses her amazing talent as a song writer/singer for social justice. Her famous friendship with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt produced two of my favorite albums: Trio and Trio II, but she is also sought after by artists like Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello.

I remember Harris as one of my first employers, when I worked at the Country Music Hall of Fame, where she was the President; this was before she had the beautiful mane of silver hair. She was quite kind and just like the rest of us normal people–nonetheless, she was one of the very few country music artists that left me star struck.  My horrific confession is that once at a CMHF dinner, I was sitting just three seats from Emmylou and when everyone left for the night, I stole her spoon. I am very sorry for this theft, but alas it is true. I believe this was 1987, so I hope the statue of limitations has now run out.

I would like to focus on Harris’ activism. In the late 90’s, Harris joined Lilith Fair, a music tour promoting women and feminism. Harris then started a music tour with her friends: Mary Chapin Carenter, Bruce Cockburn, Joan Baez, Patty Griffin, Nanci Griffith, Willie Nelson, and Lucinda Williams to raise money and awareness for a Landmine Free World. The proceeds of this tour went to support the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation‘s.

Here is another of my favorite Emmylou Harris songs, Waltz Across Texas Tonight. I hope you will hit the above links to hear a couple of my favorite songs.  Happy Birthday, Emmylou. Thank you for your activism, your work toward social justice and for your beautiful voice.

Women’s History, January 9

9 Jan

Happy Birthday, Carrie Chapman Catt.  Chapman Catt best known for her work as woman’s suffrage leader and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). She also founded the League of Women Voters.  Chapman Catt did live to see the passing of the 19th Amendment.

Happy Birthday, Simone de Beauvoir. de Beauvoir, a French existentialist philosopher and feminist, is best known for her book, The Second Sex, where she addresses women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism.

Happy Birthday, Joan Baez, award winning singer and songwriter; human, civil, and peace activist; founder of Humanitas, International Human Rights Committee (1979)  Enjoy one of my favorites by Baez.

Quote of the day:

    You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you’re going to live. Now.   Joan Baez                                                          
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