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Joni Mitchell Biography


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Birth Name: Roberta Joan Anderson
Born: 1943/11/07
Birth Place: Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada
Years Active: 1964–present
Genres: Folk Rock, Jazz, Art Rock, World


Joni Mitchell, CC, (born Roberta Joan Anderson; November 7, 1943) is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Western Canada and then busking on the streets of Toronto.

In the mid-1960s she left for New York City and its rich folk music scene, recording her debut album in 1968 and achieving fame first as a songwriter ("Urge for Going", "Chelsea Morning", "Both Sides, Now", "Woodstock") and then as a singer in her own right. Finally settling in Southern California, Mitchell played a key part in the folk rock movement then sweeping the musical landscape.

“Blue,” her starkly personal 1971 album, is regarded as one of the strongest and most influential records of the time. “Blue” was a critical and commercial success, reaching #15 in the Billboard Album charts and #3 in the UK. The single "Carey" reached #93 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Mitchell also had pop hits such as "Big Yellow Taxi", "Free Man in Paris", and "Help Me", the last two from 1974's best-selling Court and Spark.

Mitchell's contralto vocals distinctive harmonic guitar style, and piano arrangements all grew more complex through the 1970s as she was deeply influenced by jazz, melding it with pop, folk and rock on experimental albums like 1976's “Hejira.” She worked closely with jazz greats including Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, and on a 1979 record released after his death, Charles Mingus.

From the 1980s on, Mitchell reduced her recording and touring schedule but turned again toward pop, making greater use of synthesizers and direct political protest in her lyrics, which often tackled social and environmental themes alongside romantic and emotional ones.

Mitchell is also a visual artist. She created the artwork for each of her albums, and in 2000 described herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance." A blunt critic of the music industry, Mitchell stopped recording over the last several years, focusing more attention on painting, but in 2007 she released “Shine,” her first album of new songs in nine years.

In 1995, Mitchell received Billboard's Century Award. In 1996, she was awarded the Polar Music Prize. In 1997, Mitchell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She has received nine Grammy Awards during her career, with the first coming in 1969 and the most recent in 2008. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.

She was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1981 and received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000. In 2002 she became only the third popular Canadian singer/songwriter (Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen being the other two), to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor. She received an honorary doctorate in music from McGill University in 2004. In January 2007 she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In June 2007 Canada Post featured Mitchell on a postage stamp.