Mimi Fariña, 2017
acrylic on canvas
28 x 22 in
Joan’s younger sister became a folk music star in her own right in the mid-’60s, performing as a duo with her husband, singer-songwriter and novelist Richard Fariña. The couple recorded a couple of acclaimed albums for Vanguard Records, “Celebrations for a Grey Day” and “Reflections in a Crystal Wind.” Richard, author of the cult novel “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me,” was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966 on Mimi’s 21st birthday.
Mimi continued to perform, often in duets with Joan, but her real passion was Bread & Roses, a Marin County-based nonprofit she founded in 1974 to bring free, live music to people shut away in institutions — juvenile facilities, hospitals, senior centers, convalescent homes, homeless shelters, rehab facilities, prisons— anywhere folks could use the joy that music can bring.
Mimi died of cancer in 2001 after leading Bread & Roses for 25 years. It has lived on after her death. To this day, more than 1,000 volunteer musicians and performers present 626 Bread & Roses shows a year in 123 facilities in eight Bay Area counties, an average of more than one every single day.
“Mimi was a leading figure in the Bay Area and beyond,” Joan says. “Bread & Roses was her innovation, taking entertainment into these places. And it was so well organized for 25 years that it continues to this day.”