Rare footage of a pre-fame Joni Mitchell singing on Canadian television
It’s always interesting to see one of the icons of music in their early days, to see how, despite now being iconic megastars, they were once as nervous as you and I would be. Here, we take a look at some vintage footage of Joni Mitchell, before she even became Joni Mitchell.
The singer, seen in the video below, is a part of the ensemble for folk singer Oscar Brand’s music show ‘Let’s Sing Out’ which aired on Canadian television through the mid-sixties and accurately captures a moment of crossroads in Mitchell’s career—with so much ahead of her, Joni was never destined to stay in the background.
The show, in a delightfully old fashioned turn, took a travelling band across university campuses playing their folk songs and generally having some good ol’ PG fun. The ensemble was famed for launching the careers of some of the best folk singers around, most notably the esteemed Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell. The latter of which is seen in this compilation video as her career began to reach fruition.
In fact, it’s so early in the Blue singer’s career that she’s even still using her maiden name in the first clip. Shot at The University of Manitoba in 1965, Mitchell is going by her previous name Joni Anderson, taking Chuck Mitchell’s name after they married in 1966. Yet even without her stage name, Mitchell is a star in waiting as she performs ‘Born To Take The Highway’.
It’s a collection of clips which begin with a very delicately poised Mitchell. However, around the 15-minute mark in the video, we see Joni make a distinct change. It’s now 1966, Mitchell is now… Mitchell the artist and is clearly beginning to assert her identity into her performance on stage. It would be the beginning of a long road to superstardom.
During her last performance with ‘Let’s Sing Out’ at Laurentian University, the regaling folk ditties of frolicking mountains and western sunsets are put aside and a more intuitive and heartfelt set is laid out for the gleeful audience. Mitchell was establishing herself as an artist and only a year later she would move to New York to find herself and establish her sound.
Following a short career as a songwriter, Mitchell maintained her passion for performance and soon her talent was spotted. David Crosby saw Mitchell performing at the Gaslight Club and soon flew her out to LA. The sweet girl from the Canadian folk sing-a-long had begun her journey to one become of the best songwriters the world has known.