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Bella Donna: Joan Baez


Say the name Joan Baez to most people, and they'll point to her iconic status as a '60s folk singer. But while she rose to fame as a musician, her life-long activism is just as defining.

Born in Staten Island, Mexican-American Baez had a peripatetic childhood, moving from the United States to England, France, Iraq, and other countries. Being immersed in a variety of cultures stirred Baez's empathy for oppressed people, as did hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. speak when she was a teenager. She would later join King on his famous march from Selma, AL, and she became an antiwar activist during the Vietnam War. A tireless activist, she founded her own human rights group, Humanitas International, and has worked for LGBT equality since the late '70s.

Baez was, and remains, an icon of natural beauty. In her youth, she wore her hair long and flowing (as did many free spirits back in the day). Now that she's approaching 70, that hair has turned into a gray crop. Judging by Baez's busy schedule — she performed at the Inaugural Peace Ball during President Obama's inauguration festivities — it seems that pursuing one's passion makes you seem more youthful than Botox and hair dye would.

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To see a performance by a young Baez, read more.

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