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Joni Mitchell gives health update during Kennedy Center Honors speech


Singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell has shared details of her ongoing health issues in a speech given at the 2021 Kennedy Honors (December 5th). Mitchell’s appearance comes after she suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015, the effects of which left her unable to walk or speak for a short time.

In a statement given later in the year, Mitchell announced that she was making “good progress” but that her mobility was still a concern. In another rare interview given at the time, she said: “I got my speech back quickly, but the walking I’m still struggling with”.

After picking up a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 44th Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC, Mitchell once again opened up about her health, describing the incident as a return to a childhood affliction that left her similarly demobilised: “I always think that polio was a rehearsal for the rest of my life,” she began.“I’ve had to come back several times from things. And this last one was a real whopper. But, you know, I’m hobbling along but I’m doing all right!”

Mitchell was nine years old when she contracted polio. She was subsequently hospitalised for several weeks, during which time she began considering a career as a singer for the first time.

Other famous faces at the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony included Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, the Motown founder Berry Gordy and actress and singer Bette Midler. Mitchell’s acceptance speech marks one of just a few public appearances she’s made in the last few years. The singer songwriter’s last studio release was 2007’s Shine. However, she has released two volumes of archive material.

Elsewhere, Joni Mitchell was also named as MusiCares’ 2022 ‘Person Of The Year’. The organisation, which functions as the charity arm of The Recording Academy will put on a tribute concert in Mitchell’s honour in 2022.