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Friday, March 2, 2018

Joan Baez Takes a Bow

Written by Jon Williams

Iconic folk singer Joan Baez has had a long and illustrious career, commemorated with her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Now she’s ready for her swan song. The legendary artist has a new album out today, Whistle Down the Wind, her first in ten years. To go along with it, she has embarked on an extensive world tour, starting today in Stockholm and running through November in California. Aptly named the Fare Thee Well tour, it will be her final time going out on the road.

Baez was interested in music from an early age, and was set on her path young when she attended a Pete Seeger concert in 1954. She gave her own first performance in 1958, and a pair of duets with Bob Gibson at the Newport Music Festival in 1959 led to a record deal. Her self-titled debut album was released the following year. She followed it up with Joan Baez, Vol. 2 in 1961. Those albums both attained gold status, as did her 1962 live album, Joan Baez in Concert. Other albums to reach this sales mark are Any Day Now (1968), Blessed Are… (1971), and Diamonds and Rust (1975).

Throughout her career, Baez was influenced by such artists as Pete Seeger and Odetta, and she passed that influence on to a number of other musicians. Her performances with and recording of songs by Bob Dylan were a major factor in his career taking off, and she has been cited as an influence by such artists as Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, and Emmylou Harris. Although Baez is a songwriter, she is quite well known for songs written by others, including the Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and Phil Ochs’s “There but for Fortune.”

She experienced her peak popularity during the tumultuous 1960s, when her music was associated with the civil rights movement and protest of the Vietnam War. Although she slowed down some as the years went on, Baez has continued to record and perform in the intervening years, releasing a total of 25 studio albums, as well as a number of live albums, compilations, and soundtracks. Her previous most recent, Day After Tomorrow, came out in 2008. What has not slowed down is her involvement with a number of causes and issues, including LGBT rights, the environment, and opposition to the death penalty. In 2011, she was honoured by Amnesty International with the naming of the annual Joan Baez Award, recognizing artists in any media who “contribute to the advancement of human rights.”

With her work being so closely associated with protest, it is certainly fitting for her to be in the limelight one final time in our current environment. Make sure you have Whistle Down the Wind on your shelves for longtime Joan Baez fans to check out and enjoy, and shed light on her illustrious career with copies of her previous albums as well. SmartBrowse her name on our website to find more, and make sure your patrons know that her new album and her extensive discography are available 24/7 with no waiting on hoopla!

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