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Mimi Farina Bio


Mimi Baez Fariña (born Margarita Mimi Baez, April 30, 1945 – July 18, 2001) was a singer, songwriter, and activist. She was the daughter of physicist Albert Baez and sister of folk singer Joan Baez. Fariña married novelist, musician and composer Richard Fariña in 1963 at the age of 17, and 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). After Richard Fariña's death (on Mimi's 21st birthday) in a 1966 motorcycle accident, Mimi married Milan Melvin and continued to perform, sometimes recording and touring with either her sister Joan, or folksinger Tom Jans. In 1974, Fariña founded Bread and Roses, a non-profit organization, designed to bring free music and entertainment to hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons, initially in the San Francisco Bay area, and 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 US backed civil wars in Guatemala and El Salvador. They once set up to play on the abandoned railroad tracks outside Concord Naval Base in California. Surrounded by military police, Farina and Sears played a show for people protesting US weapons being shipped to government troops in El Salvador. She died of a rare form of cancer of the endocrine system in July 2001 at age 56. The life of Mimi Fariña is somewhat chronicled in David Hajdu's book, Positively Fourth 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' 1969 song "Sweet Sir Galahad".

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