Saturday 28 April 2018


We asked Cathy's daughter Caitlin to write up a short piece about her hero. Also a folksinger, Caitlin responded with some wonderful words about Queen of Folk Joan Baez.

Queen of folk music. Civil rights and peace activist. Elegant guitar player. Stealer of hearts.

Joan Baez paved the way during the 1960s folk revival. She used her piercing soprano voice and fast-growing influence to promote peaceful, political change and to speak out against the injustices she saw around her. She is also credited for introducing her audience to a then-little known Bob Dylan, a man with whom she later went on to have a famous love affair.

In 1956, two very important things happened to the impressionable 15 year old, Joanie. 1) She first heard Martin Luther King speak about the civil rights movement. 2) She bought her first guitar. That was it. There was no stopping her. She delved straight into the folk music scene, with a force that could blow up a hurricane. She never looked back.

She began singing live at university in Boston when she was still a student and used to frequent the coffee houses of Greenwich Village in New York City to sing. It was here in April 1967 that she met Bob Dylan.

Almost instantly smitten by this young vagabond, Joan Baez took Dylan under her wing and they started singing duets together. To begin with her audiences were outraged at this ruffian with the scraggly voice and the scruffy clothes, but soon he carved out his own path to stardom. Although Joan showed him the ropes when it came to political folk music, he soon overtook her in leaps and bounds with songs such as A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and very quickly shot to his own fame; claiming the royal throne of the musical monarchy. Although their love affair fizzled out after time, Joan could never shake the influence young Bob Dylan had on her. To this day she sings his songs all around the world, has recorded albums of his songs. It was a historic relationship in many ways and she unashamedly let it become one of her most defining features.

One of Joanie's most influential traits is how she has never wavered. All her life she has fought on behalf of those who can’t speak up, used her voice to help others. Today she still sings, attends Women’s Rights marches and stood on the front line at Standing Rock, a Native American Reservation site which was threatened with interference from the Dakota Access Pipeline recently. She also actively and passionately speaks out against US president Donald Trump.

Ultimately, Joan Baez is my constant source of inspiration, telling me never to give up on what I believe in, and always to speak out against anything that is unjust and unfair... and, of course, to use my voice!

Cathy says:
I'm a Joanie fan too... thanks to Caitlin! Who is YOUR hero? Tell us in a COMMENT BELOW or suggest your own 'MY HERO' blog!

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