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The human rights organization will honor the folk singer along with Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei at a ceremony in Berlin in May.

Joan Baez Honored by Library of Congress and Amnesty International

Joan BaezJust as the Library of Congress announces that it is inducting Joan Baez’s 1960 debut solo album Joan Baez into its National Recording Registry, we’ve also received news that the iconic folk singer and activist will be receiving Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2015.

Amnesty’s top honor will go to Baez and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at a ceremony in Berlin on May 21, with speakers including Patti Smith. Among the numerous punishments the Chinese authorities have meted out on Ai Weiwei is a restriction on travel, so he is not expected to attend.

Joan Baez appeared on Vanguard Records in 1960 featuring traditional songs from a smorgasbord of cultures. As the Library of Congress notes, “The album’s opening line, ‘Don’t sing love songs,’ sets the tone for many of the first-person narratives and dialogues Baez selected that valorize authenticity over sentimentality and occasionally hint at the freedom struggles she later would join.’

Amnesty InternationalThose “freedom struggles” include her work with Amnesty International, which formed just one year later and with which the singer has been associated since the early 1970s. “With her mesmerizing voice and unwavering commitment to peaceful protest and human rights for all, Joan Baez has been a formidable force for good over more than five decades,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty’s Secretary General. Baez helped start Amnesty International groups in the San Francisco Bay area and later performed at the organization’s 25th anniversary “Conspiracy of Hope” music tour in 1986.

Coincidentally, the folk music revival revue Lonesome Traveler, which pays tribute to Baez among many other artists, is currently running at 59E59 Theaters in New York.

The other recordings inducted by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry this year include The Doors’ self-titled debut album from 1967, Radiohead’s OK Computer from 1997, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill from 1998, Steve Martin’s 1978 comedy album A Wild and Crazy Guy, and the original cast album of Kiss Me Kate. Singles inducted include Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (1961), Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “Black Snake Moan”/”Matchbox Blues” (1928), “My Funny Valentine” by The Gerry Mulligan Quartet featuring Chet Baker (1953), and The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” (1964).

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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