Mimi Fariña

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Mimi Fariña
Mimi Fariña 9675.gif
Fariña playing at a benefit for Bread and Roses
Background information
Birth name Margarita Mimi Baez
Born (1945-04-30)April 30, 1945
York, Pennsylvania, USA
Died July 18, 2001(2001-07-18) (aged 56)
Mill Valley, California, USA
Genres Folk, bluegrass, Folk rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Songwriter
Activist
Instruments Vocals, Guitar
Years active 1963–2001
Labels Vanguard Records, Rounder Records
Associated acts Richard Fariña, Joan Baez, Tom Jans, Pete Sears

Mimi Baez Fariña (born Margarita Mimi Baez, April 30, 1945 – July 18, 2001) was a singer-songwriter and activist, the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and a Mexican-American physicist, Albert Baez. She was the younger sister of the singer and activist Joan Baez.[1]

Career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Fariña's father, a physicist affiliated with Stanford University and MIT, moved his family frequently, due to his job assignments, working in places not just in the United States, but internationally. She benefited from dance and music lessons, and took up the guitar, joining the 1960s American folk music revival.

Fariña met novelist, musician, and composer Richard Fariña in 1963 when she was 17 years old and married him at 18. The two collaborated on a number of influential folk albums, most notably, Celebrations for a Grey Day (1965) and Reflections in a Crystal Wind (1966), both on Vanguard Records. After Richard Fariña's 1966 death (on Mimi's twenty-first birthday) in a motorcycle accident, Mimi married Milan Melvin and continued to perform, sometimes recording and touring with either her sister Joan or the folksinger Tom Jans, with whom she recorded an album in 1971, entitled Take Heart.

Among the songs she has written is "In the Quiet Morning (For Janis Joplin)", which her sister recorded. The song is included on Joan Baez's Greatest Hits album.

In 1967, Fariña joined a satiric comedy troupe called The Committee. That same year, she and her sister Joan Baez were arrested at a peaceful demonstration, where the two were temporarily housed in Santa Rita Jail, personalizing the experience of captivity for her. By 1973, she was asked to accompany her sister Joan and B.B. King when they performed for the prisoners in Sing Sing Prison. Those two experiences led her to a desire to do more for those who are held in institutions.

Bread and Roses[edit]

In 1974, Fariña founded Bread and Roses, a nonprofit co-operative organization, designed to bring free music and entertainment to institutions: jails, hospitals, juvenile facilities, nursing homes, and prisons. Initially it was active in the San Francisco Bay area, but later, nationally. It still remains in operation, producing 500 shows per year. The organization's name came from a 1911 poem by James Oppenheim, "Bread and Roses", which is commonly associated with a 1912 garment workers strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Though she continued to sing in her later years, releasing an album in 1985 and performing sporadically, Fariña devoted most of her time to running Bread and Roses. In the late 1980s, she teamed up with Pete Sears to play a variety of benefit and protest concerts. Many concerts were concerned with human rights issues in Central America, especially the U.S.-backed civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. They once set up to play on the abandoned railroad tracks outside Concord Naval Base in California. Surrounded by military police, Farina and Sears played a show for people protesting U.S. weapons being shipped to government troops in El Salvador.

In 1986, she took the time to record her own album, Mimi Fariña Solo.

Fariña used her connections with the folksinging community to elicit help in her focus with Bread and Roses, including Pete Seeger, Paul Winter, Odetta, Judy Collins, Taj Mahal, Lily Tomlin, Carlos Santana, and Bonnie Raitt, amongst others. In 2000 alone, Bread and Roses brought performers to play at more than 500 concerts in 82 institutions.[1]

Death and legacy[edit]

Fariña died of neuroendocrine cancer, at her home in California, on July 18, 2001, at age 56.[1]

The life of Mimi Fariña is partially chronicled in David Hajdu's book, Positively 4th Street. She also has a cameo appearance in the Armistead Maupin novel Tales of the City, set in San Francisco in the 1970s.

She is referred to by Carol Ward (Catherine O'Hara) in the U.S. television series Six Feet Under, in which it is stated that Fariña had been involved with the production of the (fictitious) Pack Up Your Sorrows: The Mimi Fariña Story. She was also the subject of her sister Joan Baez's 1969 song "Sweet Sir Galahad".

She appears in the 2012 documentary "Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation" by Laura Archibald.[2]

Selected discography[edit]

  • 1965: Celebrations for a Grey Day with Richard Fariña, Vanguard Records
  • 1966: Reflections in a Crystal Wind with Richard Fariña, Vanguard Records
  • 1968: Memories with Richard Fariña, Vanguard Records
  • 1971: Take Heart with Tom Jans A&M Records
  • 1985: Mimi Farina Solo Rounder Records
  • 2001: The Complete Vanguard Recordings with Richard Fariña, Vanguard Records

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ashley, Beth (2001). "Bread and Roses Founder Singer-Activist Mimi Farina Dead at 56". Common Dreams.org. Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-07. 
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1941541/

External links[edit]