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About Margarita Mimi Fariña (Baez)
Mimi Baez Fariña (born Margarita Mimi Baez, April 30, 1945 – July 18, 2001) was a singer-songwriter and activist.
Parents: the youngest of three daughters to a Scottish mother and Mexican-American physicist Albert Baez (her next-older sister is singer and activist Joan Baez).
- in 1963 in Paris to Richard Farina; he died in a motorcycle accident in 1966.
- On September 7, 1968, Farina married record producer and radio personality Milan Melvin at the Big Sur Folk Festival. The marriage ended in divorce in 1970.
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 U.S. but internationally. She benefited from dance and music lessons, and took up the guitar, joining the sixties American folk music revival.
Fariña met novelist, musician and composer Richard Fariña in 1963 at the age of 17 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.
Bread and Roses
Inspiration struck after Farina attended a concert given by eminent bluesman B. B. King at New York's Sing Sing Prison. Joel Selvin of the San Francisco Chronicle quoted her recollection of the event as, "It was phenomenal to watch the place go silent, which doesn't happen that much in prison." This experience, coupled with her own appearance at a halfway house, gave rise to the idea of an organization that would provide music, free of charge, to people confined to institutions from convalescent homes to prisons to psychiatric facilities. So in 1974, Farina founded what would prove to be her true life's work and legacy.
Farina called her new creation "Bread and Roses," after a poem for woman laborers and their men by James Oppenheim. First funded by annual benefit concerts, it began to draw upon corporate and private donations by the early 1980s. Still, volunteers were its lifeblood and Farina had no compunction about tapping the talents of such famous friends as Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Huey Lewis, and Neil Young to help out. Nor, as Steve Uhler of the Austin American-Stateman pointed out, could anyone resist her pleas. "Mimi could bewitch anyone from age 7 to age 70 with her wit, beauty and energy, and she always picked up the tab for the post-performance pizza."
In 2000, Bread and Roses celebrated its 25th anniversary and had spawned at least 15 similar organizations across the United States. Its humanitarian mission, as well as its founder, had received myriad accolades and awards. Farina had finally combined her talents to carve a lasting niche for herself on her own terms.
Death and legacy
Fariña died of neuroendocrine cancer, at her home in California, on July 18, 2001, at age 56. The life of Mimi Fariña is partially chronicled in David Hajdu's book, Positively 4th Street. She also has a cameo appearance in Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, set in San Francisco in the '70s. She is referenced by Carol Ward (Catherine O'Hara) in the US television series Six Feet Under, stating she 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."
- Ashley, Beth (2001). "Bread and Roses Founder Singer-Activist Mimi Farina Dead at 56". Common Dreams.org. Marin Independent Journal. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
Mimi Fariña's Timeline
April 30, 1945
Paris, Île-de-France, France
September 7, 1968
Big Sur, California, United States
July 18, 2001