Joan Baez returns to peace theme in first album in decade
NEW YORK – Folk legend Joan Baez has announced her first album in a decade, a collection of covers that returns to her longtime theme of global peace.
The 76-year-old singer and activist, who earlier this year was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said “Whistle Down the Wind” will come out on March 2.
It will be her second straight album to take its title track from a cover of a song by Tom Waits, the somber and famously raspy-voiced songwriter, following Baez’s 2008 “Day After Tomorrow.”
The new album also features covers of songs by Americana singers Josh Ritter and Joe Henry, who produced “Whistle Down the Wind.”
In one of the lesser-known covers, Baez performs Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” a piano ballad about the 2015 massacre by a white supremacist of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, and the subsequent eulogy at which then-president Barack Obama sang that well-known Christian hymn.
‘Amazed and honoured’
Mulford, a little-known folk singer from Philadelphia heavily influenced by Baez, said she was “amazed and honored” and that Baez has already received standing ovations when performing “The President Sang Amazing Grace” in concert.
“If only one of my songs ever reaches a larger audience, I’m glad it’s this one,” Mulford wrote on her website after Baez selected the song.
Baez also covers “Another World” by Antony and the Johnsons, a mournful meditation on the world’s destruction by the mellifluous singer now known as Anohni, and ends with “I Wish All Wars Were Over,” originally by folk singer and musicologist Tim Eriksen.
The album news comes after Baez said that 2018 will mark her last year of touring.
She has already announced a European tour that will open on the album’s release date in Stockholm and include a 10-night stretch in June at the Olympia in Paris.
Baez was one of the major musical figures behind social justice movements in the 1960s, becoming a confidante of Martin Luther King Jr. and performing songs including the iconic “We Shall Overcome” at the 1963 March on Washington.