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04 March 2023

Joni Mitchell Performs And Is Honoured With Gershwin Prize At Tribute Concert

Joni Mitchell River Music Video
Photo: Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo
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Joni Mitchell gave a rare performance at a tribute concert celebrating her Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song award.

“My God, it’s overwhelming,” Mitchell said as she appeared onstage to accept the award. “It’s just a beautiful event for me. So many people that I care about are here tonight from different parts of my life. New friends, old friends. It’s just kind of thrilling. Thank you all for coming.”

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Mitchell sang the George and Ira Gershwin classic Summertime. “It’s so exciting to see all of these musicians that I admire performing my music,” she told the crowd. “And I wanted to kind of express my gratitude by singing a Gershwin song. Yeah. So I’m gonna sing Summertime.”

The evening’s other performers then came to the stage and surrounded Mitchell as she performed her much-loved song, The Circle Game. Graham Nash, James Taylor, Ledisi, Cyndi Lauper, Herbie Hancock, Marcus Mumford, Brandi Carlile and more backed Mitchell, ending the evening on a high note.

Graham Nash commented to the Associated Press, “She has had many, many difficulties in her life with polio when she was young. And now there’s a brain aneurysm several years ago. But to see her come back and be singing again and playing again is incredible. I mean, talk about resilience.”

James Taylor also praised Mitchell, “She had a huge effect on me, on my work. And we collaborated during the year or so that we were together on a lot of stuff… Joni is a national treasure.”

Brandi Carlile was one of the evening’s busiest performers, adding backing vocals, as well as taking on Mitchell’s Shine. Before the concert, Carlile admitted not discovering Mitchell’s music until later in her life. “It felt really feminine to me, really vulnerable, and it made me really uncomfortable, which is a reflection, I think, on my own ego and my coming of age in being a bit of a gender non-conforming person or just not really understanding the way that she was showing me, and all of us, the world. And it wasn’t until I fell in love and met my wife that I realized how multi-dimensional Joni was as an artist,” Carlile said.

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