Fariña playing at a benefit for Bread and Roses
|Birth name||Margarita Mimi Baez|
April 30, 1945|
Palo Alto, California, U.S.
|Died||July 18, 2001
Mill Valley, California, U.S.
Margarita Mimi Baez Fariña (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.
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 in Paris. 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 moved to San Francisco where she flourished as a singer, songwriter, model, actress, and activist. She performed at various festivals and clubs throughout the Bay Area including the Big Sur Folk Festivals, the Matrix, and the hungry i. Mimi briefly sang for the rock group the Only Alternative and His Other Possibilities. 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. In 1968 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. Mimi and Milan divorced in 1971.
Among the songs she has written is "In the Quiet Morning (For Janis Joplin)", which her sister recorded and released in 1972 on the album Come from the Shadows. The song is also included on a number of compilations, including Joan Baez' Greatest Hits album.
By 1973, Mimi was asked to accompany her sister Joan and B.B. King when they performed for the prisoners in Sing Sing Prison. This experience, along with her arrest in 1967, led her to a desire to do more for those who are held in institutions.
Bread and Roses
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 the Concord Naval Weapons Center in California. Surrounded by military police, Fariña 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.
Death and legacy
Fariña died of neuroendocrine cancer, at her home in California, on July 18, 2001, at age 56. A memorial service was held on August 7 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Eulogies from Joan Baez, Paul Liberatore and Lana Severn were heard by the 1,200 people who attended.
The life of Mimi Fariña is partially chronicled in David Hajdu's book, Positively 4th Street. She is referenced in the Armistead Maupin novel Tales of the City, set in San Francisco in the 1970s, and she also appeared in a cameo role in the 1993 miniseries based on the novel.
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 sister Joan Baez' 1969 song "Sweet Sir Galahad".
She appears in the 2012 documentary "Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation" by Laura Archibald.
- 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
- Ashley, Beth (2001). "Bread and Roses Founder Singer-Activist Mimi Farina Dead at 56". Common Dreams.org. Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- The Ballad of Mimi Fariña A biography of the great guitarist par Douglas Cooke.
- "Eulogies". Bread and Roses. Bread and Roses. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
- Cooksey, G (2004). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives (Volume 6: 2000-2002 ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 152–153.
- "Greenwich Village: Music That Defined a Generation". IMDb. January 18, 2013.
- Allusions to Richard or Mimi Fariña
- Still Shots Performance on Rainbow Quest
- News Film footage of Joan Baez and Mimi Fariña (in the background) being released from jail October 26, 1967.
- Tribute from Bread & Roses site
- Obituary in Marin Independent Journal
- Bread & Roses, non-profit organization founded by Mimi to bring live entertainment to those who are in institutions
- Mimi Farina at Find-A-Grave
- Mimi Fariña and Joan Baez