Emmylou Harris, Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Joan Baez Tribute at 2021 Kennedy Center Honors ‘Represents Who She Is’ [WATCH]
Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris were on hand to perform a tribute to Joan Baez at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, which aired on CBS on Sunday (June 6). They offered two of Baez's most iconic songs -- "Diamonds & Rust" and "We Shall Overcome" -- a pairing that, the singers explained, represents the honoree's musical identity.
"We thought it was a great song for our voices, but also, it kind of represents so much of Joan -- who she is as a person," Harris explains, speaking of "We Shall Overcome." "She set the bar, the idea that if you have the gift of a voice, or any kind of talent, of gift, you have to use it for other than yourself and self-gratification. She never thought twice about it."
"In this time that we're in, where there's such polarization in our country, our culture, so many examples of that -- she is the example of someone who uses her voice, her artistry, her renown, to show other artists that there should be no feat in that," Chapin Carpenter adds.
In her own reflections on the experience of being honored, Baez thought back to the experiences that she, Chapin Carpenter and Harris have shared as contemporaries and friends.
"Chapin and I have come to the point when our voices have all gone down one note, and then a note and a half, and hers is just this rich, velvet thing that happens," Baez noted. "And I love that they did "Diamonds & Rust.""
Also during the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony, Baez was honored by singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson, who spoke to her immeasurable legacy and impact on him as a performer.
"She's probably inspired or influenced as many people as anybody else. Probably one of the most important figures of the folk scene," he noted. "Her spirit and politics for sure, and musically, of course. So yeah, I'd definitely say she's influenced me."
Baez was one of five honorees from 2020, alongside country superstar Garth Brooks. The event took place in May, after being postponed due to COVID-19 shutdowns.