The 1960s Cultural Revolution

By John C. McWilliams | Go to book overview
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Biographies: The Personalities Behind the Cultural Revolution

Baez, Joan January 9, 1941- )

A folk musician with an extraordinary voice who spent most of her life protesting and demonstrating for social causes, Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941, and grew up on Staten Island, New York. When her parents moved to Palo Alto, California, in the early 1950s, her sensitivity to racism intensified when her classmates shunned her because of the dark skin she inherited from her Mexican father. Her pacifism also originated with her father, a Quaker whose belief in nonviolence motivated him to quit a lucrative job in the defense industry.

After Baez graduated from high school in 1958, the Baez family moved back to the East where Joan's father, a physicist, taught at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Baez attended Boston University's School of Fine and Applied Arts, but she was not well suited for the discipline required in academia, dropped out, and began singing in local coffeehouses in nearby Cambridge. By 1959, at age eighteen, she could claim a national following, which was boosted with her appearance before thirteen thousand people at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island that year. Two years later, she signed a record contract and released her first album, Joan Baez. She toured with Bob Dylan, usually drawing ten thousand to twenty thousand fans to their concerts, which increased to more then twenty a year, and she began to appear more frequently on television. Mainstream America was introduced to Baez when she was the subject of Time magazine's cover story in November 1962. But Baez did not forget her

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