Vike Profile: Joan Baez: folksinger, activist, author

Sophia Krugler, Managing Editor

Palo Alto High School senior Joan Baez poses for her picture in Paly’s 1958 yearbook. Photo: Paly Journalism Archives

In 1958, when The Campanile newspaper staffers predicted that Joan Baez, then a senior at Palo Alto High School, “will be commander-in-chief of the Pacifist Army, they were spot-on. 

Baez, who gained worldwide popularity as a folksinger in the early 1960s, used her platform and music to express her political views. She supported the anti-war and free speech movements during the 1960s, and even performed “We Shall Overcome” with Bob Dylan at the March on Washington in 1963, a protest for civil rights for African Americans.

Baez’s career took off after she performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 with folk singer Bob Gibson, and went on to release her self-titled debut album a year later. She has released over 30 albums over her nearly 60-year career and has written seven books, several of which focus on her life as a human rights activist and career as a folksinger.

She received a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2007 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Although Baez started as a folksinger, she explored other genres of music throughout her career, such as folk rock, pop, gospel, and country music. She released her most recent album, titled “the Banks of Ohio,” in March of 2019.