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Watch a mesmerising live performance from 17-year-old Joan Baez, 1958


“I see a young man playing ‘Plaisir d’Amour’ on guitar. I knew I didn’t want to go to college; I was already playing a ukulele, and after I saw that, I was hooked. All I wanted to do was play guitar and sing.” – Joan Baez

We’re taking a look back at some vintage footage to remember a stunning performance from a young folk legend. In 1958, while honing her craft, a 17-year-old singer going by the name of Joan Baez took to the stage at the iconic ‘Club 47’ in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The venue, which became the epicentre of the folk music scene around the area from 1958-1968, would see the likes of Shawn Colvin, Bob Dylan, Tom Rush, Joni Mitchell and more kickstart their careers from their intimate stage. It would offer Baez that very same opportunity.

Notably though, Joan Baez would be the name that sticks out following her breakthrough show in the late 1950s. The footage, which was once considered lost, was restored by American Masters who created a feature celebrating fifty years of Baez in film Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound.

“From an early age, Joan Baez had the courage of her convictions,” says Susan Lacy, series creator and executive producer of American Masters. “Her artistry and her commitment to human rights make her a musical and political force as relevant today as when she first started.”

A sample of Baez’s quite extraordinary performance, in which she sings a traditional Scottish ballad titled ‘Barbara Allen’, was rescued and fixed up into high definition quality. With a small crowd in attendance, the 17-year-old plays the guitar while delivering her angelic vocal range and offering up a vision of the future.

See the clip from the vintage footage, below.