Singer, songwriter and social activist Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941, in Staten Island, New York, in a Quaker household, her family eventually relocating to the Southern California area. Of Mexican and Scottish descent, Baez was no stranger to racism and discrimination. But that did not stop her from pursuing her natural musical talents. She became a vocalist in the folk tradition and was a crucial part of the music genre’s commercial rebirth in the 1960s, devoting herself to the guitar in the mid-1950s.
Baez first became known to the wider public as a distinctive folk singer after performing at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. After releasing her debut album Joan Baez in 1960, she became known for topical songs promoting social justice, civil rights and pacifism. Baez also played a critical role in popularizing Bob Dylan, with whom she dated and performed regularly in the mid-1960s.
Although some considered her voice too pretty, her youthful attractiveness and activist energy put her in the forefront of the 1960s folk music revival, popularizing traditional songs through her performances in coffeehouses, at music festivals, and on television and through her record albums, which were best sellers from 1960 through 1964 and remained popular.
Below, we selected some of fascinating portraits of a very young Joan Baez during the 1960s.