Written By: Eliza Berman
Joan Baez is an icon of folk music activism.
From her performance at the landmark civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 to her advocacy for migrant farm workers and gay rights to her denunciation of torture and the death penalty, Baez has championed human rights both on- and offstage. Like two of her major influences, Pete Seeger and Marian Anderson, Baez demonstrated how fame can be used as a platform for activism.
These portraits of Baez by LIFE photographer Ralph Crane were taken in 1962, when she was a mere 20 years old, near her home in Carmel, Calif. “Standing on the shore,” the description in LIFE read, “she evokes the same wistful intensity that goes into her rare but luminous recordings of sweet laments.” Some of them were sweet laments, to be sure, but half a century later it’s clear that her music has been so much more.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.