Indisputably Fort MacLeod, Alberta’s most famous native, Joni Mitchell was born in 1943 as Roberta Joan Anderson. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was in the Air Force, and once WWII was over, the family moved around while her father worked at various jobs throughout western Saskatchewan, eventually settling in Saskatoon. She contracted polio as a child, but fortunately beat what at the time was a severely crippling, if not deadly disease. It was while hospitalized that she began developing her love for poetry, as well as for drawing.
Her father was also an avid musician, and his love for swing records, as well as classical music, were some of her earliest influences. Her father played trumpet in the Air Force and in different marching and pseudo jazz bands on his own time, and she often joined in town parades with his band. She’d been playing piano since begging her parents to let her take lessons at the age of 7, around the same time she started showing early artistic talents as well. Getting hooked on Elvis and The Everly Brothers, she also took up the ukulele because her mother wouldn’t let her own a guitar. She began performing live locally while still in school, playing anywhere there was an audience, no matter how small, finally getting her mother to relent and let her add a guitar to her musical repertoire along the way.
Once out of high school, she moved to Calgary and enrolled in The College of Art and Design to pursue her painting passion, continuing to do the local coffee shop circuit at the same time. She became such a staple at The Depression Club in downtown Calgary that she dropped out of college after only one year, and worked her way around the prairies. To complicate matters, she was also pregnant from a relationship, where the father had bailed out while she was three months into her term. Then, the pill and abortion were both unavailable, and there was still a prevailing social stigma about births out of wedlock. She decided to move to Toronto, where she continued trying to catch her break.
She gave birth to a baby girl in February 1965, quietly and away from family. Even though it wasn’t publicly known, it was an experience that marked several songs over the years, first as a social issue commenting on stigmas and women’s rights, and also as an autobiographical tale. But while playing at Penny Farthing, one of Toronto’s top folk clubs that summer, she met Chuck Mitchell, also trying to make it on the circuit. They were married and they moved to Detroit. There, she immersed herself in her music and art, continued doing local area coffeehouses, and even appeared at the Mariposa Folk Festival a year later. Although the dives she was playing were still a far cry from Carnegie Hall, she continued soaking up the various sounds that would eventually help shape her image. Her gaining local popularity led to her being featured on Oscar Brand’s CBC TV program, “Let’s Sing Out,” broadening her exposure.
But within two years she was divorced, and now free to do what she wanted. She moved to New York, where the other artists there at the time began taking notice of her music and began covering her songs. Hooking up with manager Elliott Roberts led to more live dates from Chicago to New York, from Toronto to Florida. Folk music then was still emerging, and it was common for most performers on the circuit to play many of the old, traditional songs, and in each city, it was established that the established performers had first dibs on signature songs. Whether or not that artist actually wrote that song was irrelevant. Mitchell found her best traditional material was already in others’ repertoires. It was during this period that she began concentrating almost solely on writing her own material. It was while playing at the Miami Pop Festival that she met David Crosby, then with The Byrds. He was so impressed that he introduced her to the brass at Reprise Records, who signed her in 1968.
She was now living in California with Crosby, and by this time, “Urge for Going,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Both Sides, Now,” and “The Circle Game” had all been covered and recorded by her peers. And although the label execs originally only wanted her services as a songwriter, they relented when she pressured them to release her debut album, SONG TO A SEAGULL, that March.
The record was initially untitled thanks to a screw-up at label headquarters but was quickly rectified. And although her bread and butter was already folk, it was more classically influenced by strong poetic lyrics. Divided into two almost completely different sections – “I Came To The City” and “Out of The City and Down To The Seaside,” it was a concept album before its time that critics took notice of. “I Had A King” explored her failed marriage, while tracks like “Night In The City” The album also began a long relationship with two other prominient musicians on the scene at the time, Stephen Stills, who played guitar on the record, and Crosby, who produced it.
She worked with producer Paul Rotchild for her follow-up, 1969’s CLOUDS, which featured a self-portrait as the jacket, sparking a long-standing artistic career, as well. Shifting towards more of a pure folk sound, the album contained little more than her voice and acoustic guitar and featured “Both Sides Now,” which had already been taken to the top 20 by Judy Collins. The album won a Grammy that year for Best Folk Album.
Mitchell started churning out some of the era’s most commercially acceptable folk songs, often combining pop elements to them. She released LADIES OF THE CANYON in the summer of 1970, titled after Laurel Canyon, an LA subdivision that had a rich music culture during the ’60s, and her new home when she moved in with Graham Nash. The songs were leading away from a true acoustic folk sound, and more piano and pop influences were seeping through. The environmental anthem “Big Yellow Taxi” went to #1 on the charts in Canada and the US and #3 in the UK. “Woodstock” cracked the top 20 (Crosby Stills Nash & Young) took it to #1, covering it a year later), although her version was slower and darker, and recorded on an electric piano.
Other notable cuts included the title track, “The Circle Game,” “Rainy Night House,” and “Willy” – telling the story of her love affair with Graham Nash. Along with the rest of CSNY, he provided bg vocals for the song. The album was an instant smash on FM radio, and sold briskly through the summer and fall, eventually becoming Mitchell’s first gold album in the US, selling over a half million copies. She decided to stop touring for a year and just write and paint, and yet she was still voted as Top Female Performer for 1970 by “Melody Maker,” the UK’s leading pop music magazine.
After her three-year relationship with Crosby ended, she left for Europe for some ‘alone time,’ but still continued writing. When she returned in the spring of 1971, she began seeing James Taylor, just prior to BLUE being released. The record was eventually ranked as among Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time, in the top 50 all-time Canadian classic albums on Chart Magazine’s list, and made The New York Times’ list of 25 albums of all time that represented “turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music”.
Along with her own version of “Urge For Going” (a top 10 hit for both George Hamilton IV and Judy Collins), it also included a duet with Taylor in “Carey,” as well as “This Flight Tonite,” a song Nazareth took to the top of the charts a few years later, making it one of the critics’ almost unanimous votes as one of the greatest rock power ballads of all time. “Little Green,” which she performed in the 1960s but didn’t record until now, gave allusions to having given up her baby for adoption, though it still wasn’t known publicly at the time. Because they didn’t know the personal connotations of some of her lyrics, critics often took shots at Mitchell, saying they didn’t make sense.
Her tours included backing up Jackson Browne in the US, then headlined her own tours of Europe, and also played benefit concerts to help fund the campaign for presidential hopeful George McGovern. But musically restless, Mitchell was growing apart in the direction from what Reprise brass wanted her going in and became one of the first artists to sign with David Geffen at Asylum Records for the album, FOR THE ROSES in ’72. Although some critics felt it didn’t live up to the hype, considering her previous album had gone platinum, others embraced the shift from folk to more of a straight pop sound. The first single “You Turn Me On – I’m A Radio” peaked at #25 in the US and in the top 10 in Canada – ironic in that she wrote it as a sarcastic attempt to appease her new bosses’ request for a hit single.
“Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” was a jazz-tinged number about a heroin addict and the trap of fame, while songs like “Banquet” and the title track dove into social issues, and “See You Sometime” dealt with fleeting emotional ties to little less than temporary infatuations, and “Electricity” dwelled on the simplicity of country living, while “Judgement of The Moon & Stars” was her ode to Beethoven, and “Barangrill” recounted stories from her seemingly endless bus station stops while first embarking on her musical journey.
By this point, Joni Mitchell was well established as a bit of a hell-raiser when it came to things she felt strongly about, having made her sentiments on the Viet Nam War, women’s rights, and other issues known, never one to tolerate censorship of any type. Controversy ensued when the inside jacket for FOR THE ROSES had a photo of her nude, albeit a shot was taken from a distance.
Her 1973 stage appearances were much more sporadic than previously, only playing a handful of shows that year, mostly around her LA home, including an April benefit concert at the Sir George Williams University Auditorium, and twice that August at The Corral Club, accompanied by Neil Young.
After signing a new deal with Asylum Records, she returned to the studio off and on for most of 1973, resulting in the release of the pre-album single, “Raised on Robbery” just in time for the Christmas rush. Almost an ode to rockabilly, it stalled before making the top 40. Hooking up with Tom Scott and his band, LA Express, the album COURT AND SPARK followed the following January. Recorded with Tom Scott and his band LA Express, the record also featured cameos by Robbie Robertson, Cheech & Chong, Jose Feliciano, and her usual CS&N friends.
Fusing elements of her constantly evolving interest in jazz and pop, and putting in an occasional folk spin made the record an easier cross-over hit. “Help Me,” and “Free Man In Paris” (about David Geffen’s new sense of relief after having sold the company to Warner) did better on the singles charts than their predecessor, and the album eventually became her most successful ever, reaching #2 in the US and #1 in Canada, reaching double platinum status. It was voted the best album of the year for 1974 in The Village Voice Jazz & Pop Critics Poll, and 30 years later was listed #111 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
That same year, a new version of “Big Yellow Taxi” was the only single released from the live album that November MILES OF AISLES, a two-record set recorded from various shows on her recently concluded selected world tour dates. Although the single failed to make the top 40 in the US, Canadian sales went well, and the song peaked at #20. By the end of the year, her name was up for four Grammys, and she won one for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals, with Scott.
After moving to Bel Air, California with LA Express drummer John Guerin, her experimentations with jazz continued for the next few years, with THE HISSING OF SUMMER LAWNS in ’75. Although critics called this phase of her career “ambitious” and “creative,” it didn’t stop them from dishing out some bad reviews. Still, on the back of the single, “In France They Kiss On Main Street” (one of her more successful jazz/rock hybrids about coming of age in a small town in the ’50s), the album went gold and peaked at #4 on Billboard. Mitchell was also praised by her die-hard fans for her experimentations on the album, such as using traditional Burundi drums in “The Jungle Line,” and “Edith and the Kingpin” – a straight-out jazz fictional tale about a gangster trying to go straight.
With LA Express in tow again, she embarked on a tour that lasted until the spring of ’76, but not before playing several legs with Bob Dylan throughout North America and Europe. Although she’d been nominated for two Junos to this point, it wasn’t until the spring of ’76 that she finally took one home, for Best Folk Artist of the Year. Her name was also thrown in the hat that year for another Grammy, though she didn’t win.
Only a couple of months later, she’d parted ways with John Guerin, and thus with LA Express, as well, despite several tracks for the next record having already been written. Reworked, rewritten, and re-recorded, HEJIRA was on the store shelves that November, following her appearance on The Band’s “Last Waltz” concert/documentary. The first single was “Coyote,” an ongoing set of collaborations with legendary jazz virtuoso bass guitarist Jaco Pastorius. Also notable was “Song For Sharon” detailing life growing up on the Saskatchewan frontier, and Neil Young on harmonica on “Furry Sings the Blues.”
Her next project was the 1977 double album, DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER, recorded with jazz ensemble Weather Report. Knowing her contract with Asylum was coming to an end, she expanded even further into Mitchell’s jazz-tinged leanings, and experimented with tracks like “Overture,” which contained nothing but her voice and effects, and six guitars. The 16-minute “Paprika Plains” contained many improvised piano parts, accompanied by a full orchestra, while touching a nerve lyrically, as the song was about First Nations people and an overwhelming atmosphere of despair. “The Tenth World” was another lengthy opus, complete with a Latin rhythm section, and “Dreamland,” which featured a cameo by Chaka Khan and a spotlight on percussion.
Even throughout this point in her career, Joni Mitchell had worked with some of the industry’s finest and most respected artists, helping shape her own jazz stylings, including Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny and Charles Mingus. When Mingus passed away in the spring of ’79, it was after she had collaborated with him on his final recordings, and he on her most recent works. In his honour, the new album was named after him later that year.
MINGUS, her tenth studio album, was in many ways less experimental than others. Weather Report was again used on the record, and Herbie Hancock was also brought in on piano for a few tracks. And although Mitchell wrote all the lyrics, Mingus himself had penned the music for four of the tracks. Of them, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” a 1959 tune Mingus wrote as a tribute to saxophonist and inspiration Lester Young, was the only old song on the record. The jazz undertones, overplucked and buzzing acoustic guitars had all been done before, and adding recordings of Mitchell and Mingus improvising scat segments, for the most part, the buying public didn’t get it, and the record stalled at #17 on Billboard’s albums chart.
She started off the ’80s by fulfilling her contractual obligations to Asylum, releasing the live SHADOWS AND LIGHT album before 1980 drew to a close, recorded over two nights at the Santa Barbara County Bowl the previous September. It included versions of some of her biggest hits at the time, including “Woodstock,” “In France They Kiss On Main Street,” “Amelia,” and “Edith and The Kingpin.” A year later, she was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
She switched to Geffen Records for WILD THINGS RUN FAST in October 1982, marking her move back to more of a pop sound, inspired by the emerging pop sounds at the time, including Steely Dan, Talking Heads, and The Police she heard while vacationing in the Caribbean. For the most part, her off-hand poetic imagery addressing social and environmental ideology, mixed with romantic longing, confusion, disillusion and joy was gone. Instead was a cover of “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care),” and guest appearances by Lionel Ritchie and Toto’s Steve Lukather. “Chinese Cafe” was released as a single, and although she hadn’t yet confirmed the rumour about giving her child up for adoption, the song’s lyrics all but did. The song shot gradually climbed into the top 40 on both sides of the border.
The resulting world tour took Mitchell through the U.S., Europe, Asia and Australia, and resulted in a concert video a year later, entitled “Refuge of the Roads.” Controversy ensued however after the video’s release when it was learned that the performances weren’t live, but actually recorded in a studio post-tour with applause dubbed-in in post-production. There was also some Super 8 footage taken by Mitchell on the road. “Refuge of the Roads” was later released on DVD.
Expanding her foray into pop with synthesized elements, Don Henley and Thomas Dolby guested on her next project, which in actuality was over a year in the making. DOG EAT DOG was released in October 1985, and featured the single “Shiny Toys,” which even warranted a UK-released extended dance remix, and was followed onto the charts by “Good Friends,” a duet with The Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald. That song even warranted one of Mitchell’s few music videos. Lyrically, the album dealt with the prominent issues of the day’s society, including televangelists and consumerism. The message of world famine in “Ethiopia” struck home and was called by critics as some of her most poignant lyrics in years. She also contributed to the Northern Lights’ famine relief project, lending her voice to the fundraiser single “Tears Are Not Enough.”
She returned in 1988 with CHALK MARK IN A RAIN STORM. For the first time, the recording was done outside of the US, when she and new husband/producer Larry Klein were in Bath, England, visiting with Peter Gabriel. They laid down some raw tracks in his Ashcombe House recording studio, and recording continued for a few months in Beckingham, England, and then around the LA area. Continuing her sojourn into more pop-oriented songs, it featured several duets, including “My Secret Place” with Peter Gabriel, Don Henley on “Snakes & Ladders” and “Lakota” (a foray into First Nation culture with a few political undertones), and Willie Nelson on her roots throwback of The Sons of The Pioneers’ “Cool Water.” Billy Idol and Tom Petty also appeared on “Dancin’ Clown.”
Still, the album also featured Mitchell’s trademark experimentations, and synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers found their way to vinyl. The subject of war was also touched on in two completely different tales. Mitchell’s parents met during World War II, and were told in “The Tea Leaf Prophecy.” “The Beat of Black Wings” meanwhile leaned back towards her social commentary, about a Vietnam veteran. While “Number One” was released as the second single, Mitchell was in the middle of a relatively hectic tour schedule that had her playing throughout North America, and would later take her on a two-month trip throughout the UK and Europe. Appearances on several TV and radio programs overseas helped bolster sales. Reviews were relatively favourable, and the number of cameos brought the album even more notice. The album peaked at #45 on Billboard’s Albums Chart, and although she didn’t win, the album earned her eighth Grammy nomination that year. With two wins, it was unprecedented for any Canadian artist. In contrast, at this point, she’d been nominated for twelve Junos, but had only won once.
She started out the ’90s by participating in Roger Waters’ The Wall Concert in Berlin, performing “Goodbye Blue Sky” and taking part in the concert’s ending song, “The Tide Is Turning.” But for the most part, Mitchell was rarely touring anymore, having moved to BC’s coast by then.
She followed up with NIGHT RIDE HOME in the spring of 1991, her final record for Geffen, and signalled a move closer to her acoustic beginnings, stripped down with less experimentation. “Come in from the Cold” about childhood and middle age was the first single, and although it peaked on the wrong side of Billboard’s top 40, critics and fans alike welcomed her back after nearly three years off, taking to songs like “Cherokee Louise” about a childhood friend who suffered sexual abuse, and “The Windfall (Everything For Nothing)” a recanting of a maid who tried to sue her over a wrongful dismissal, but failed. The album also contained “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” based on the WB Yeats poem, “The Second Coming,” and the title track, which received good airplay on the still-developing Adult Oriented Radio stations, despite not being released as a single. That song was originally entitled “Fourth of July” when it was first played live a few years earlier. The album would eventually sell nearly 300,000 copies in its first year, and peaked at #41 in the US, #36 in Canada and #21 in the UK.
She won her third Grammy and only her second Juno for her work on TURBULENT INDIGO, released in 1995. Going through the divorce of her husband Larry Klein, the songs were more personal than on recent projects, with Seal guesting on “How Do You Stop,” a duet written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight. Mitchell again surrounded herself with familiar people in the studio, including Michael Landau on guitars and saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and her collaboration with longtime friend David Croby for “Yvette In English.” Another notable was “Magdalene Laundries,” recounting the sufferings of Irish women at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church, after forcing them to work in an asylum.
She was nominated for two JUNOs that year – Best Roots/Traditional Album and Songwriter of the Year, but walked out empty-handed. On the other hand, she was also in the running for a pair of Grammys that year, and took home the doorstop for both Best Pop Album and Best Album Package.
In 1996, she released a compilation package, but only after Reprise execs relented, granting her wish of having a second album wrap up some of her lesser-known songs, as chosen by her. The result was HITS AND MISSES that fall and did exactly what was promised. A year later, Mitchell finally met the daughter she’d given up for adoption nearly 30 years later. Kilauren Gibb had already begun a search for her mother by that time, and a quiet reunion was held.
Her first new material in three and a half years resulted in 1998’s TAMING THE TIGER, which featured the lead-off Harlem in Havana” and “Man on Mars,” as well as Don Freed’s “The Crazy Cries Of Love” and a cover of the ’40s pre-jazz standard “My Best To You” by Gene Willadsen and Isham Jones. It was a record heavy on guitar synthesizers, and although she didn’t win, she was also nominated for a JUNO for Best Pop/Adult Album. She returned to the road to promote the album, and although not extensive, most notably was co-headlining a tour with Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.
It was around this point that people began noticing a change in Mitchell’s voice. She herself speculated that it was due possibly to a number of factors, including a compressed larynx, vocal nodules, and the lingering effects of having polio as a child, but doubted a limited vocal range over that long a career had anything to do with smoking cigarettes since she was a teen. She also contended that her voice, in her opinion, was ‘more interesting than in younger days.
In 1999, she was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for the historical significance of what most critics agree is one of pop music’s seminole albums, BLUE, 28 years after its release. Mitchell had spent nearly the last year in semi-retirement mode again but found time to lay down some tracks while at Ocean Way Studios outside London. With additional recording in LA at Ocean Way, she released BOTH SIDES NOW in early 2000, the same year she received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame.
She’d announced a year later she was officially retired and wasn’t going to release any ‘new’ material, and held true to that. For years, Mitchell had expressed in no uncertain terms her dislike for what the music business had become, calling it a “cesspool.” She opposed the record industry’s dominance and her desire to control her own destiny, possibly through releasing her own music over the Internet, but released the traditional CD called BOTH SIDES NOW. The record was a collection of outtakes and unfinished projects from her early jazz experimentation phase that had been kicking around in the closet, cleaned up and on the shelves.
The guest list on the record included the likes of Peter Erskine, Mark Isham, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter – all of whom had appeared on her records in the past, and tracks like the lead-off “You’re My Thrill” and the soulful “Don’t Go To Strangers,” rounded out what some critics were calling one of her best albums ever. It featured several ambitious pieces with a full complement of brass and percussion, along with her trademark complex guitar tunings set to soulful, introspective lyrics. Two singles were released, and both “A Case of You” and the title track found their way onto the charts and spawned a short national tour, which got rave reviews. She was accompanied by a core band featuring her ex Larry Klein on bass, leading a local orchestra at each show.
On April 6, 2000, the TNT Network paid tribute to Mitchell by presenting an all-star celebration at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The list of artists performing that night included Bryan Adams, James Taylor, Elton John, Wynonna Judd, Cyndi Lauper, and Diana Krall, among others. Mitchell herself ended the evening with “Both Sides Now.” complete with a 70-piece orchestra. That version of the song was featured on the soundtrack to the hit movie, “Love Actually” in 2003. She again found herself on the podium at that year’s Grammys, winning for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, but losing for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. She also won only her second JUNO a year later, for Best Vocal Jazz Album.
Like its predecessor BOTH SIDES NOW, her next project, TRAVELOGUE in 2002, contained no new material, but instead were some of her personal favourites previously released over the years, remixed with overblown jazz ensemble treatments, and featured another all-star cast that had sat in on the original sessions over the years, including Billy Preston on piano and ex-husband Larry Klein on bass, among over a dozen others.
In 2002, she added yet another Grammy to her collection, when she was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the same year she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honour. Gordon Lightfoot and Leondard Cohen were the only other singer/songwriters to have been bestowed that honour. A year later, her Geffen catalogue was collected in a remastered, four-disc box set appropriately titled THE COMPLETE GEFFEN RECORDINGS also included a handful of gems that hadn’t made it to plastic yet.
In 2004, she received an honorary doctorate in music from McGill University, in between the release of two new reworked jazzy compilations from the past – THE BEGINNING OF SURVIVAL and DREAMLAND. SONGS OF A PRAIRIE GIRL followed a year later. Unlike the two a year previous, her new album was themed on growing up in some of the most rural of all rural Canada and featured the original recordings of classics like “Raised on Robbery,” “Chinese Cafe,” and “Ray’s Dad’s Cadillac,” among others. The album was released shortly after Saskatchewan’s Centennial Concert, which featured a tribute to Mitchell. The British Queen, for some reason, was a special guest at the ceremony which had nothing to do with an outdated monarchy from a far-off distant land.
In ’06, her 1971 masterpiece BLUE was listed in an issue of TIME Magazine as among the top 100 albums of all time. In 2007, a longtime friend and collaborator Herbie Hancock released his album, RIVER: THE JONI LETTERS, his personal tribute to her. Guesting on it were several of her other musical peers over the years, including Wayne Shorter, Leonard Cohen, Tina Turner, and Norah Jones. The album peaked at #5 on The Billboard 200 after enjoying a huge sales boost after it won the Grammy in ’08 for Album of the Year and Best Contemporary Jazz Album. The record also peaked in the top 100 charts in Canada, Switzerland, France, the UK, and The Netherlands.
That same year, she released SHINE, an album she admitted was inspired by the Iraq War. The project was her first album for new label, Hear Music, a division of Starbucks. Going against her previous commitment of no new material, the album did in fact have new recordings of previously unreleased material, as well as reworkings of a few classic standards, including a new spin on “Big Yellow Taxi.” The record debuted at #14 on Billboard’s albums chart, at #16 in Canada, and #36 in the UK. It resulted in only her third ever JUNO, this one for Producer of the Year. As well, she picked up her eighth Grammy, for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for “One Week Last Summer.”
’07 was also the year that she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was honoured with a postage stamp, along with Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot, and Anne Murray. She also spent some time in Calgary that year, serving as an advisor for the Alberta Ballet Company’s premiere of “The Fiddle and the Drum,” a dance choreographed to selections from her catalogue. Portions of the show were also filmed with the attention of having a documentary produced, and was the first woman to win the Royal Swedish Academy of Music’s Polar Music Prize, sharing it with French composer Pierre Boulez in 1996.
But as well as a multiple award-winning songwriter, composer, and musician, Joni Mitchell has enjoyed a very illustrious art career, gaining favourable reviews for several art exhibits over the years. She’s also painted all but eight of her own album jackets. In 2002, she worked with Gilles Hebert, when the two produced abook called “Voices,” after they’d visited a newly renovated Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. Although for the most part she’s stuck to her word about not performing live anymore, she has come out of seclusion to speak on a variety of environmental issues.