- Category : Entertain-Music-Instrumentalist
- Type : PEG
- Profile : 4/6 - Opportunistic / Role Model
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX The Four Ways 1
American singer and musician, the founder of the non-profit concert organization, "Bread and Roses." She is the sister of Joan Baez, a close friend of Bob Dylan and a recording artist with her husband, Richard, popular in the '60s folk music. Farina continued her career in music after her husband's death, although it was as founder of the charitable organization Bread and Roses that she found lasting rewards. The nonprofit organization in Marin County presents live music performances to shut-ins at hospitals, prisons and senior homes. Bread and Roses presented more than 500 performances at 99 institutions last year with more than 600 volunteers and a staff of only nine.
The youngest of three daughters, Mimi was born while their dad studied for his doctorate at Stanford. She lived with her family in Baghdad and Paris, where she met Richard Farina, a half-Irish, half-Cuban beatnik. They married and moved to the Carmel highlands and pursued a career as a folk-singing team. Richard and Mimi Farina recorded two albums, "Reflections in a Crystal Wind" and "Celebration for a Grey Day," and at least one of their songs, "Pack Up Your Sorrows," was an airplay staple in the early days of underground FM radio. Her husband, who wrote "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me," died in a motorcycle crash on his way home from his first book signing on 4/30/1966 - her 21st birthday.
Mimi married hippie radio entrepreneur Milan Melvin in 1968 in an improvised outdoor ceremony at the Big Sur Folk Festival, a counterculture social event prominent enough to have been chronicled in the pages of early Rolling Stone. The marriage ended in divorce two years later. She recorded an album with singer-songwriter Tom Jans in 1971, the last album she released, but at that point was tiring of the music business and discouraged from comparing herself to her more famous sister.
The idea for Bread and Roses came in 1974 when she and her sister attended a moving show by blues man B.B. King at New York's Sing Sing prison. "It was phenomenal to watch the place go silent, which doesn't happen that much in prison," she said. But it was a performance she gave a few months later at a halfway house for troubled teenagers arranged by a cousin that crystallized the idea for Bread and Roses. There are now more than 15 other community organizations modeled after Bread and Roses across the country.
Farina was diagnosed with lung cancer in December 1998. She continued with plans for the gala 25th anniversary celebration for Bread and Roses at San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House in March 2000, where she appeared wearing a turban to hide her hair loss from chemotherapy treatments. She made jokes about not having bad hair days any longer.
She died of cancer early morning, 6/18/2001 at her Mill Valley home, CA, at age 56. Her family, including her sister Joan Baez, were at her bedside.