Joan Baez to be honored with Justice in the Arts Award at 2017 Awards Dinner

We are pleased to announce that we will be honoring singer, songwriter, and human rights activist Joan Baez with our Justice in the Arts Award at our 26th Annual Awards Dinner.

Joan Baez made her major performance debut at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. A stunning soprano, Joan’s natural vibrato lent a taut, nervous tension to everything she sang. Yet even as a then 18-year-old, her repertoire reflected a different sensibility from her peers. In the traditional songs she mastered, there was an acknowledgment of the human condition, undoubtedly influenced by her Quaker upbringing.

For over five decades, as a singer, nonviolent activist, and humanitarian, Joan has kept her pact with the spirit of her voice. At times when it was neither safe nor fashionable, Joan put herself on the line countless times, and her life’s work was mirrored in her music. She marched on the front line of the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; organized resistance to the Vietnam War; and helped bring the Free Speech Movement into the spotlight. She marched with the Irish Peace People; inspired Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic; helped established a fledgling organization called Amnesty International; and stood in the fields with Cesar Chavez and the migrant farmworkers; and she continues to fight for the abolition of capital punishment.

Her recent honors include her introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2017), Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award (2015), the ASCAP Centennial Award (2014), and the NARAS (Grammy®) Lifetime Achievement Award (2007). She is the author of two autobiographical books: Daybreak (1968) and And A Voice To Sing With (1987). Her latest studio recording is Grammy nominated Day After Tomorrow (2008).

Joan Baez at the 2016 Awards Dinner

Those who attended the 2016 Annual Awards Dinner will undoubtedly remember Joan’s a cappella performance of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” which was an especially touching moment that stood out from an already moving evening. Joan attended to present the 2016 Justice in the Arts Award to her dear friend and fellow artist, Jackson Browne.

Ms. Baez joins Sen. Bernie Sanders, Judy Clarke, and Speedy Rice as an honoree for this star-studded event. Additional appearances, including surprise guests, Special Recognition Awards, and live entertainment will be announced.

Click here to purchase tickets. For tables and sponsorships, please contact MTA Events at or call 818-814-6670

Save the date: Our 26th Annual Awards Dinner is May 7

Mark your calendar now for DPF’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner on the evening of see Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA. Please join us as we honor extraordinary individuals fighting for justice, human rights, and an end to the death penalty. The Abolition Award: Senator Bernie Sanders
Presented by Jane Sanders

Sen. Sanders was the first presidential candidate in nearly 30 years to forcefully declare his opposition to the death penalty. He was instrumental in getting the Democratic Party to adopt abolition of capital punishment as a plank in its official platform last year.

The Mario Cuomo Acts of Courage Award: Judy Clarke and Speedy Rice
Presented by Sister Helen Prejean

Judy Clarke has represented defendants in some of the most high-profile capital cases in recent history, including Susan Smith, Theodore Kaczynski, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. She has been recognized by the Ninth Circuit for her “sterling character and unquestioned integrity, coupled with ongoing dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of law.”

Thomas H. Speedy Rice has led numerous international missions in the fight against the death penalty, including meetings with Heads of State, legislative bodies, judicial conferences, and UN and EU bodies. He has tried cases in U.S. State and Federal courts and argued appellate cases before a number of American courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court, and the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Tables and sponsorships are available now. Please contact or call 818-814-6670 for more information about purchasing a table or placing an advertisement in the event’s tribute booklet.

More information, including additional honorees, presenters and ticket sales, will be announced as the date approaches. Visit for the most up-to-date information.