Press Release – Elephant Publicity
With her mesmerizing voice and unwavering commitment to peaceful protest and human rights for all, Joan Baez has been a formidable force for good. Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty
Joan Baez to receive Amnesty International’s highest award ahead of her NZ tour in October
With her mesmerizing voice and unwavering commitment to peaceful protest and human rights for all, Joan Baez has been a formidable force for good. – Secretary General of Amnesty International, Salil Shetty
Joan Baez who is touring New Zealand in October this year, will receive Amnesty International’s highest honour – the Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2015 on May 21 at a ceremony in Berlin. The award, recognizing those who have shown exceptional leadership in the fight for human rights through their life and work, acknowledges Baez’s lifelong commitment as an outstanding, courageous activist whose beliefs can’t be separated from her music. She is joint recipient of the award with world-renowned artist Ai Wei Wei. Singer-songwriter Patti Smith will speak at the ceremony.
“The Ambassador of Conscience Award is a celebration of those unique individuals who have used their talents to inspire many, many others to take injustice personally. That is why both Joan Baez and Ai Wei Wei make such worthy recipients; they are an inspiration to thousands more human rights activists, from across Asia to America and beyond,” says Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.
The award was announced by Amnesty International on March 25, the 50th anniversary of Joan Baez’s performance to the Selma to Montgomery civil rights march in Alabama. She performed at the “Stars for Freedom” rally alongside fellow artists including Harry Belafonte (who was awarded the Ambassador of Conscience Award in 2013), Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Paul & Mary and Nina Simone.
The influence of Baez is incalculable. She sang about freedom and civil rights from the backs of flatbed trucks in Mississippi and from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before Dr Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech, and she marched on the front lines of the civil rights movement. Baez brought the Free Speech Movement into the spotlight at Berkeley; organized resistance to the war in South East Asia, travelling to Hanoi; inspired Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic; and sang on the first Amnesty International tour. She helped establish local Amnesty International groups in the San Francisco Bay area in the early ‘70s.
In 2008 Baez stood alongside Nelson Mandela when the world celebrated his 90th birthday in London’s Hyde Park, and performed at Occupy Wall Street in New York. In 2009, Joan attended the first presidential inauguration of Barack Obama in Washington DC and sang at the Peace Ball. She was back in Washington in 2010 to celebrate Black History Month with an all star concert broadcast live from the East Room. Into 2012 Joan participated in other historic events ranging from an April benefit concert in Berkeley dedicated to raising awareness and improving the lives of war victims to the outdoor concert celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Esalen Institute on its beautiful grounds in Big Sur.
Baez returns to New Zealand in Spring 2015. This concert series follows 2013/2014’s triumphant world tour that saw Baez receive standing ovations across four continents. These unmissable concerts offer a rare opportunity to experience one of the world’s greatest and most inspiring performers.
Watch Joan Baez and Bob Dylan on Diamonds and Dust here: