- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 9, 2002

More than 40 years after Joan Baez became a folk icon, the singer is embarking on a new U.S. tour to help the next generation of folk singers gain public attention.

Miss Baez , 61, plays tonight and tomorrow at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, along with Richard Shindell and the folk duo of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer.

"I never had the slightest designs on being an entertainer," she told the Associated Press in a 1998 interview. "I just sang. I sang rhythm and blues at first. And pop music."

That unintentional career has spawned more than 40 albums and compilations, along with a lifetime of performing and social activism, such as Vietnam War protests.

Miss Baez began her career in the 1950s, playing coffeehouses and writing folk songs while still in her teens. Her performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 helped turn her into an immediate success. Her debut album, "Joan Baez," was released a year later.

After that came "Joan Baez, Vol. 2 (1961)" and "Joan Baez in Concert, Pts. 1 and 2 (1963)." These albums have been recently remastered and released on Vanguard Records with new material from the original recording sessions.

Miss Baez's life in the 1960s, including her tumultous rela-tionship with Bob Dylan, was chronicled last summer in "Positively 4th Street." The book follows the American folk scene through the lives of Miss Baez and Mr. Dylan, along with her late sister Mimi Baez Farina and Mimi's husband, the late author and folk singer Richard Farina.

Her famed soprano has lasted through her folk records of the 1960s, country albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s and periodic new releases. The last of these was 1997's "Gone From Danger," which was released at the same time as Mr. Dylan's Grammy Award-winning "Time Out of Mind."

"I was lucky for about the first 40 years," Ms. Baez said of her voice. "But then, about 17 years ago, I realized it wasn't going to be a free ride forever, and I started seeing a vocal coach. I practice daily or I wouldn't have any kind of a high range left."

While still performing and demonstrating on behalf of political causes, including a Sept. 16 tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in New York and locally, Miss Baez has been promoting the music of younger songwriters. These include Dar Williams and Mr. Shindell, whose songs were included on "Gone From Danger."

She's also appeared on recordings with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and on rocker Roger McGuinn's new release "Treasures From the Folk Den."

"My principles really haven't budged much," she said. "The foundations are all rooted in nonviolence, and that hasn't changed."

WHAT: Joan Baez with special guest Richard Shindell and opening act Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

WHERE: Birchmere Music Hall, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

WHEN: 7:30 tonight and tomorrow night


PHONE: 703/549-7500

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