Baez has been doing a lot of phone interviews with local papers, some on the tour route and some not. It’s a weird little cottage industry. The interviews don’t pick up anything new, indeed they are very repetitious. Given the internet I wonder why they still happen.
Anyhoo, we have the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Q: There are some powerful songs on your new album such as “The President Sang Amazing Grace” about Barack Obama at the service for the Charleston church shooting victims.
A: Those are absolutely powerful. The “President” song and “Another World” take the album to a different level. I love that album.
The San Diego Troubadour has a long reflection on Joan’s career:
However, she was inspired enough to record a song in 2015 after President Obama spontaneously sang “Amazing Grace” during a eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who had been murdered in his own church by a racist during a prayer meeting in South Carolina. The song, “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” demonstrates how, once again, Joan Baez’s musical path crossed with history. It was written by Zoe Mulford, a singer-songwriter whose work is built on the vintage music of the Appalachians and the British Isles, much like Joan Baez’s early career. The song appears on Baez’s latest album, Whistle Down the Wind.
While the recording on album effectively resonates the soul of the song with a piano arrangement reminiscent of Ken Burns’ Civil War, there is a poignant performance of Baez singing the song on a Scandinavian talk show during an interview available on YouTube. This is worth seeking out. It shows Baez bringing to life a song of sorrow and hope as she did in 1963. It is vintage Baez. She has not lost her touch.
The song and this performance serves to bookend a career that began with a shy 18 year-old girl quietly stepping into the spotlight and merging a passion for social justice—which was in short supply in 1959—with a love for the unifying power of song.
On her latest album she brings this home by gifting us with Zoe Mulford’s song about a racial tragedy and the inspired response of America’s first African-American president. It portrays a president who seeks to heal and comfort with empathy and compassion in the face of tragedy.
There’s the Chicago Sun Times:
Her stark sentiments about the state of the world are reflected in her latest album, “Whistle Down The Wind,” featuring beatific covers of contemporary artists including the pensive acoustic strummer “I Wish The Wars Were All Over” (Tim Eriksen), the poetic serenade of “Civil War” (Joe Henry) and the clear album highlight, “The President Sang Amazing Grace.” The latter was written by Zoe Mulford in response to Barack Obama’s eulogy for the victims of the 2015 church shooting in Charleston, and is done justice by Baez whose serene soprano crawls right into your tear ducts.