Legendary singer and activist Joan Baez was featured on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” recently, speaking with the host about her new collection of drawings, AM I PRETTY WHEN I FLY? An Album of Upside Down Drawings. Watch the full interview HERE.
Published by Godine (purchase here), this new collection shows another side of Baez: lovingly loose and charming sketches on reoccurring themes such as politics, relationships, women, animals and family. Each section, organized thematically, includes an introductory piece by the artist. Baez approaches her line drawings as exercises in freedom: she begins drawing upside down—often using her non-dominant hand—without any preconceived notion of where the lines might lead her.
Released to critical acclaim, Kirkus praises in a recent starred review, “The pages come alive, taking readers on a pictorial trip through Baez’s life…by gracefully walking a fine line between blunt-force honesty and flights of fancy, the book is satisfying, enjoyable, and rewarding…fans and newcomers alike will appreciate this intimate look into Baez’s unique artistry.”
Baez will hold select book events and signings this spring in celebration of the publication, including April 23 at Los Angeles’ Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (in conversation with Patt Morrison), April 28 at Menlo Park’s Kepler’s Books (in conversation with Angie Coiro), May 6 at Berkeley’s Bay Area Book Festival (in conversation with Greg Sarris) and May 25 at Chicago’s Chicago Humanities Festival/Old Town School of Folk Music (in conversation with Justin Richmond of the Broken Record Podcast).
Joan Baez is a musical force of nature whose commitment to social activism has never wavered. Starting with her early 1960s recordings, her performances of traditional ballads exerted a powerful attraction on a generation and songs like “House of the Rising Sun” and “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” found their way into the rock vernacular. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and honored by the Kennedy Center in 2021 among countless other accolades.
At the same time, Baez’s role in the human rights and anti-war movements around the world has earned her place in history, alongside friends and allies, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, the Irish Peace People, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, and others.
Since retiring from active performing in 2019, Baez has focused her formidable talents on painting and drawing. Today, the life and times of Joan Baez are reflected in her “Mischief Makers” series of paintings that immortalize risk-taking visionaries, ranging from Dr. King and Bob Dylan to the Dalai Lama and Patti Smith.