Songs of Struggle: Joan Baez and MiMi Farina

Joan Baez is well known as an American singer and political activist:
Joan Baez, in full Joan Chandos Baez, (born January 9, 1941, Staten Island, New York, U.S.), American folksinger and political activist who interested young audiences in folk music during the 1960s.

Despite the inevitable fading of the folk music revival, Baez continued to be a popular performer into the 21st century. By touring with younger performers throughout the world and staying politically engaged, she reached a new audience both in the United States and abroad. Her sense of commitment and unmistakable voice continued to win acclaim.

The daughter of a physicist of Mexican descent whose teaching and research took him to various communities in New York, California, and elsewhere, Baez moved often and acquired little formal musical training. Her first instrument was the ukulele, but she soon learned to accompany her clear soprano voice on the guitar. Her first solo album, Joan Baez, was released in 1960.

Although some considered her voice too pretty, her youthful attractiveness and activist energy put her in the forefront of the 1960s folk music revival, popularizing traditional songs through her performances in coffeehouses, at music festivals, and on television and through her record albums, which were best sellers from 1960 through 1964 and remained popular.

She was instrumental in the early career of Bob Dylan, with whom she was romantically involved for several years. (Her relationship with Dylan and with her sister and brother-in-law, the folksinging duo Mimi and Richard Fariña, is chronicled in David Hajdu’s Positively 4th Street [2001].)

Two of the songs with which she is most identified are her 1971 cover of the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and her own “Diamonds and Rust,” which she recorded on her acclaimed album of the same name, issued in 1975.

An active participant in the 1960s protest movement, Baez made free concert appearances for UNESCO, civil rights organizations, and anti-Vietnam War rallies. In 1964 she refused to pay federal taxes that went toward war expenses, and she was jailed twice in 1967.

The following year she married David Harris, a leader in the national movement to oppose the draft who served nearly two years in prison for refusing to comply with his draft summons (they divorced in 1973).

Baez was in Hanoi in December 1972, delivering Christmas presents and mail to American prisoners of war, when the United States targeted the North Vietnamese capital with the most intense bombing campaign of the war.

The title track of her 1973 album Where Are You Now, My Son? chronicles the experience; it is a 23-minute spoken-word piece punctuated with sound clips that Baez recorded during the bombing.

Throughout the years, Baez remained deeply committed to social and political matters, lending her voice to many concerts for a variety of causes.

Among her later noteworthy recordings are Very Early Joan (1982), Speaking of Dreams(1989), Play Me Backwards (1992), Gone from Danger (1997), Bowery Songs(2005), Day After Tomorrow (2008), and Whistle Down the Wind (2018).

A CD/DVD set of her 75th Birthday Celebration concert was released in 2016, and she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Baez wrote Daybreak (1968), an autobiography, and a memoir titled And a Voice to Sing With(1987). Wiki

Mimi Fariña aka: Margarita Mimi Baez, American folk singer and social activist

was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez. She was the younger sister of the singer and activist Joan Baez.

Fariña’s father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family frequently due to his job assignments, working in the United States and in international locations. She benefited from dance and music lessons, and took up the guitar, joining the 1960s American folk music revival.

Fariña met novelist, musician, and composer Richard Fariña in 1963 when she was 17 years old and married him at age 18 in Paris.[2] The two collaborated on a number of influential folk albums, most notably, Celebrations for a Grey Day (1965) and Reflections in a Crystal Wind (1966), both on Vanguard Records. After Richard Fariña’s death in 1966 (on Mimi’s twenty-first birthday) in a motorcycle accident,

Mimi moved to San Francisco where she flourished as a singer, songwriter, model, actress, and activist. She performed at various festivals and clubs throughout the Bay Area, including the Big Sur Folk Festivals, the Matrix, and the hungry i. Mimi briefly sang for the rock group the Only Alternative and His Other Possibilities. In 1967, Fariña joined a satiric comedy troupe called The Committee.

That same year, she and her sister Joan Baez were arrested at a peaceful demonstration where the two were housed temporarily in Santa Rita Jail, personalizing the experience of captivity for her. In 1968, Mimi married Milan Melvin and continued to perform, sometimes recording and touring with either her sister Joan or the folksinger Tom Jans, with whom she recorded an album in 1971, entitled Take Heart. Mimi and Milan divorced in 1971.

Among the songs she has written is “In the Quiet Morning (for Janis Joplin)”, which her sister recorded and released in 1972 on the album Come from the Shadows. The song is also included on a number of compilations, including Joan Baez’ Greatest Hits.

By 1973, Mimi was asked to accompany her sister Joan and B.B. King when they performed for the prisoners in Sing Sing Prison. This experience, along with her arrest in 1967, led her to a desire to do more for those who are held in institutions.

Fariña died of neuroendocrine cancer at her home in California on July 18, 2001 at age 56. A memorial service was held on August 7 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Eulogies from Joan Baez, Paul Liberatore and Lana Severn were heard by the 1,200 people who attended. Wiki

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