JOAN BAEZ celebrated her 75th birthday on Saturday, January 27 at New York’s historic Beacon Theatre. The special event honored her legendary 50 plus years in music with an intimate, career-spanning live performance. Baez performed alongside a remarkable array of superstar artists including: David Bromberg, Jackson Browne, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Judy Collins, David Crosby, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Damien Rice, Paul Simon, Mavis Staples, Nano Stern, and Richard Thompson.
The special Joan Baez 75th Birthday Celebration will premiere on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances in New York on Friday, May 6 at 9 p.m. before expanding nationwide to PBS stations in June (Check local listings).
Prior to the gala celebratory event, Mary Chapin Carpenter had observed, “She has been a mentor, an inspiration and a role model for anyone who ever picked up a guitar and wanted to believe they could do more than just sing pretty songs. She has showed multiple generations that music can move and inspire as well as be a force for courage, solidarity, fellowship and justice. To be able to celebrate her 75th birthday with her in New York City is a dream evening, and I think I will feel 17 again for much of it.”
Indeed, their duet of “Catch the Wind” – movingly dedicated to Baez’s late sister Mimi – is a highpoint. But all the duets reveal a strong mutual affection between Baez and her guests, close friends as much as professional colleagues. Hugs and kisses are much in evidence.
Despite the vastness of the ornate Beacon Theatre, a former movie palace from the 1920s, the concert is captured in intimate close-ups, and Baez intersperses her vocals with off-the-cuff reminiscences such as how she was once tasked with waking an exhausted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The awards for Baez’s activism and career continue unabated. Last year, she was presented with Amnesty International’s “Ambassador of Conscience Award” at a ceremony in Berlin. The award is the organization’s top honor and recognizes those who have shown exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights through their life and work.
Baez was further honored recently when Joan Baez, her breakthrough 1960 debut album, was selected by the Library of Congress as one of its 25 annual recordings to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. The Library of Congress stated that the album “preserves for posterity powerful performances from the Harvard Square coffeehouse repertoire that brought Baez to prominence as the folk-revival movement was arriving on the national stage.”
Full Music Program
God Is God (Steve Earle)
There But for Fortune (Phil Ochs)
Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotton)
She Moved Through the Fair (Traditional)
Catch the Wind (Donovan Leitch)
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Hard Times Come Again No More (Stephen Foster)
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Traditional)
Oh, Freedom / Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around (Traditional)
The Water Is Wide (Traditional)
Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right (Bob Dylan)
She Never Could Resist A Winding Road (Richard Thompson)
Before The Deluge (Jackson Browne)
Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez)
Gracias a la Vida (Violeta Parra)
The Boxer (Paul Simon)
Forever Young (Bob Dylan)
Production Credits Print
The Joan Baez 75th Birthday Celebration was directed for television by David Horn. Mitch Owgang is producer. David Horn and Mark Spector are executive producers. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn is executive producer.
Great Performances is funded by the Anne Ray Charitable Trust, the Irene Diamond Fund, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Arts Fund, The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust, Rosalind P. Walter, The Agnes Varis Trust, The Starr Foundation, the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Estate of Charles J. Bourgeois, Jody and John Arnhold, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, The Joseph & Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, the Lenore Hecht Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, and PBS.
WNET is America’s flagship PBS station and parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21. WNET also operates NJTV, the statewide public media network in New Jersey. Through its broadcast channels, three cable services (KidsThirteen, Create and World) and online streaming sites, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to more than five million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings. WNET’s groundbreaking series for children and young adults include Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase as well as Mission US, the award-winning interactive history game. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJTV News with Mary Alice Williams and MetroFocus, the daily multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. In addition, WNET produces online-only programming including the award-winning series about gender, First Person, and an intergenerational look at tech and pop culture, The Chatterbox with Kevin and Grandma Lill. In 2015, THIRTEEN launched Passport, an online streaming service which allows members to see new and archival THIRTEEN and PBS programming anytime, anywhere: www.thirteen.org/passport.