Joan Baez (born January 9, 1941 as Joan Chandos Báez) is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician, and activist whose contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest or social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 55 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish as well as in English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages.
In 1956, Baez first heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak about nonviolence, civil rights and social change which brought tears to her eyes Several years later, the two became friends, with Baez participating in many of the Civil Rights Movement demonstrations that Dr. King helped organize.
The early years of Baez’s career saw the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. become a prominent issue. Her performance of “We Shall Overcome”, the civil rights anthem written by Pete Seeger and Guy Carawan, at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom permanently linked her to the song. Baez again sang “We Shall Overcome” in Sproul Plaza during the mid-1960s Free Speech Movement demonstrations at the University of California, Berkeley in Berkeley, California, and at many other rallies and protests.