Joan Chandos Baez (born January 9, 1941) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages. Although regarded as a folk singer, her music has diversified since the counterculture era of the 1960s, and encompasses genres such as folk rock, pop, country and gospel music.
She began her recording career in 1960 and achieved immediate success. Her first three albums, Joan Baez, Joan Baez, Vol. 2, and Joan Baez in Concert all achieved gold record status.
She was one of the first major artists to record the songs of Bob Dylan in the early 1960s; Baez was already an internationally celebrated artist and did much to popularize his early songwriting efforts. Baez also performed fourteen songs at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and has displayed a lifelong commitment to political and social activism in the fields of nonviolence, civil rights, human rights and the environment.
Baez has also been prominent in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights. In 1978, she performed at several benefit concerts to defeat the Briggs Initiative, which proposed banning all gay people from teaching in the public schools of California. Later that same year, she participated in memorial marches for the assassinated San Francisco city supervisor, Harvey Milk, who was openly gay.
In the 1990s, she appeared with her friend Janis Ian at a benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a gay lobbying organization, and performed at the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride March.
Her song "Altar Boy and the Thief" from Blowin' Away (1977) was written as a dedication to her gay fanbase.
Baez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7, 2017.