How good is Joan Beaz?— speaking about her voice

Redefining folk music, the Kennedy Center honoree appeared wherever her melodies and bravery were needed.

Imagine a young woman in a packed Cambridge coffee shop, burnishing 200-year-old ballads in her acoustic guitar, barefoot even in the Massachusetts winter, makeup-free and with a curtain of black hair. This was innovative at the beginning of the 1960s, turning music on its gleaming, hairsprayed head. Known as the Queen of Folk, Joan Baez appeared on the cover of Time magazine. everything at the ripe age of twenty-one.


Superlatives could not describe her scorching soprano with its distinctive tremolo. It was deemed incomparable, yet it was compared to everything, including the crisp fall air and ancient gold. It was said to be a direct connection to God, trembling, and sounding like a siren, a sibyl, or an enchantress.

She refers to her voice, which previously reached three octaves, as “the gift.” The 80-year-old Baez says, “If I look at it that way, then I can appreciate it and talk about it for what it is, not something I created.” “It keeps me thankful,”


Still, she had a hand—more specifically, her index finger—in enhancing her voice. The vibrato needed to be encouraged at first. Using Zoom to show the Baez vibrato technique, she describes how, as a teenager, she “literally sat in front of the mirror and wobbled my Adam’s apple up and down” from the kitchen of her Northern California house, where she had painted a painting of her granddaughter above the fireplace.


A common trend among performers is to publicly downplay their abilities. I just can’t stand to hear my work, please. Not Baez, one of the five Kennedy Center recipients for this year.


She declares, “I enjoy listening to my albums.” There were forty, with nearly one being released annually for the first twenty years. Baez has a soft spot for the early versions of her music. “That instrument simply cannot be surpassed.” To me, the little vocal box and everything that comes out are just flawless in and of itself,” the woman remarks. She estimated that the perfection persisted for twenty years.


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