She was born Joan Chandoz Baez on 9th January 1941 on Staten Island, New York, to a Quaker family. Her father, Albert, is the co-inventor of the X-ray microscope and author of one of the most widely used physics textbooks in the U.S.
She started singing as a busker in the Boston/Cambridge area and performing in local clubs, mainly Club 47. Her professional career started in 1959 at the Newport Folk Festival. She introduced people to Bob Dylan as well as being romantically involved with him until 1965.
She was very involved as a civil rights activist, for which she was jailed for a month in 1967. From 1968-1973 she was married to David Harris who was a prominent Anti-Vietnam War protester and organiser. They had a son, Gabriel Earle, who now makes musical instruments.
In the 1970s she helped establish the US branch of Amnesty International and in the early 1980s she founded her own human rights group Humanitas International. She was prevented from performing in Chile, Brazil and Argentina in 1981 because they were worried about her criticism of their human rights practices.
She received a Distinguished Leadership Award from LCAV in July 2006. She successfully sued Al Capp for libel after she was portrayed as Joney Phoney in Li’l Abner. Until she was in her forties she saw a therapist to assist her in handling stage fright. Her younger sister was the singer and guitarist Mimi Farina .
Here is Joan performing Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young”..