A few months later, Baez and two other folk enthusiasts made plans to record an album in the cellar of a friend's house. The three sang solos and duets, a family friend designed the album cover, and it was released on Veritas Records that same year as Folksingers 'Round Harvard Square. Baez later met Bob Gibson and Odetta, who were at the time two of the most prominent vocalists singing folk and gospel music. Baez cites Odetta as a primary influence along with Marian Anderson and Pete Seeger. Gibson invited Baez to perform with him at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival, where the two sang two duets, "Virgin Mary Had One Son" and "We Are Crossing Jordan River". The performance generated substantial praise for the "barefoot Madonna" with the otherworldly voice, and it was this appearance that led to Baez signing with Vanguard Records the following year although Columbia Records tried to sign her first. Baez later claimed that she felt she would be given more artistic license at a more "low key" label. Baez's nickname at the time, "Madonna", has been attributed to her clear voice, long hair, and natural beauty, and to her role as "Earth Mother".
Joan Baez has been performing publicly for over 55 years, an incredible fact to match an incredible woman who's music has inspired countless modern contemporaries and has given voice to minorities through her political and social commentary. Her music resonates with fans through a number of decades so therefore the crowd gathered this evening is expectedly varied, aged patrons come along with their offspring as Baez's music is exactly the kind of thing you would be proud to offer down to your children.