Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer/songwriter who sees music not just as an art but as fluid architecture. Rolling stone, an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture, considers her as one of the greatest songwriters ever.
Though she is majorly a vocalist, she also plays musical instruments like the guitar, piano, and dulcimer. The singer draws her inspiration from a wide range of subjects such as romance, confusion, disillusionment and joy, any of which portrays her feelings at that moment. She has gone on to fuse these feelings alongside her environmental ideals into making music of folk, pop, rock, and jazz genres.
Joni Mitchell’s Biography
Born with the full name Roberta Joan Anderson on November 7th, 1943, in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, the star singer is the daughter of William Andrew Anderson and Myrtle Marguerite Anderson. Her father, of Norwegian origin, was a Royal Canadian Air Force flight lieutenant who instructed new pilots at RCAF Station Fort Macleod while her mother, of Scottish and Irish origin, was a school teacher.
After the end of World War II, the then 9-year-old Joni and her parents moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She had a childhood passion and love for painting much to the admiration of friends and families. Consequently, after high school, she enrolled in the Alberta College of Art in Calgary but ended up spending only a year there, saying the courses being offered there were meaningless and not as creative as she had hoped. Having decided to shift her focus to her singing talents, she decided to move to Toronto.
The talented lady began her singing and entertaining by playing at parties, small nightclubs, and get-togethers, using the baritone ukelele at first and later the guitar. At this stage of her musical career, she struggled to find jobs because she could not afford to join the musician’s union. Mitchell later went professional in 1964, playing at clubs and festivals around Canada and singing folk songs, most of which were recorded by her idol, Judy Collins, until she recorded her own songs.
In 1968, the sonorous singer eventually released her first album titled Song to a Seagull, which she dedicated to Mr. Kratzman, a man who according to her, taught her to love words. Meanwhile, Kratzman was an Australian teacher she met while in grade 7.
Late in 1964, Mitchell fell pregnant for her Calgary ex-boyfriend Brad MacMath, who left her with nothing three months into the journey. She later gave birth to a baby girl named Kelly Dale Anderson in February 1965 and a few weeks after childbirth, she got married to Chuck Mitchell who promised to take full responsibility of the child but not long after, Joni gave up the baby for adoption. She and her husband moved to Detroit, U.S, in 1965 to settle down. However, their union lasted only a year and a half.
Joni then moved to New York where she gradually built her reputation as a live performer and songwriter throughout the 20th century. She has been associated with other artistes and acts like James Taylor, L.A express, Jaco Pastorius, Thomas Dolby, Graham Nash, Robben Ford, amongst many others.
The singer has had a successful career spanning decades and has many successful tours and awards to attest to it. She was inducted into the Canadian music hall of fame in 1981 and on December 6th, 1995, she received the Billboard Century Award. The following year, she was given the Governor General’s
Performing Arts Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award, Canada’s highest honor in the performing arts.
In the year 2000, Joni also received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame and that was followed by an appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2002. She is currently a 9-time recipient of the prestigious Grammy Awards and in addition to that, she has also received many other awards and nominations for her work.
Joni Mitchell’s health has since deteriorated with age following her retirement from music. In 2010, she revealed that she had Morgellons syndrome, a parasitic infestation associated with the skin and immune system, and in 2015 she suffered a brain aneurysm which resulted to her undergoing physical therapy and daily rehabilitation. In 2018, it was revealed that she was making some progress and was learning to walk again.
5 Interesting Facts You Need To Know
1. She contracted the fatal polio disease at the age of nine following an epidemic that broke out. Although she recovered after weeks of being hospitalized, her left hand was weakened.
2. Also at the age of nine, Joni Mitchell started smoking. She has revealed that her smoking habit started one night after choir practice in the middle of the winter season. A girl who had brought a pack of cigarettes began passing it around to other
girls and Joni decided to take one puff only to continue smoking after.
3. Although her famous husky voice is said to be as a result of her smoking habit, the singer denies it, claiming that it has never affected her voice.
4. No one knew that Mitchell had a daughter until more than two decades later when her art-school roommate in the 1960s, let out the information to a tabloid magazine. She eventually reunited with her child, renamed Kilauren Gibb, in 1997.
5. Joni Mitchell loves living alone in seclusion from others and claims she is not afraid of confronting death.