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Music

Joni Mitchell sings in public for the first time in nine years

@SamWKemp

For the first time in nine years, Joni Mitchell has taken to the stage for a live performance as part of MusiCares’ 2022 Person of the Year benefit gala. The honour – previously recieved by Aerosmith and Dolly Parton – was bestowed upon the musical icon on Friday, April 1st.

While Mitchell wasn’t scheduled to be performing on the bill, she ended up joining Beck, Brandi Carlile, Cyndi Lauper, Stephen Stills, Jon Batiste and more to sing a rendition of her 1970 hit ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ and ‘The Circle Game’.

The ceremony also saw a selection of tribute performances in Mitchell’s honour, including a cover of her 1975 track ‘The Jungle Line’ from The Hissing Of Summer Lawns, performed by Back; a rendition of ‘Court And Spark’ by St. Vincent; and a version of ‘River’ from 1971’s Blue by John legend.

Elsewhere, Mickey Guyton performed a rendition of ‘For Free’, while Herbie Hancock and Terrace Martin took on ‘Hejira’. The ceremony also saw a performance of ‘Help Me’ by Dave Grohl’s 15-year-old daughter Violet, while Billy Porter put his spin on ‘Both Sides Now’ and Carlile and Stills covered ‘Woodstock’.

Carlile and Stills served as the night’s artistic directors alongside Batiste. In his opening speech, Batiste said: “When I heard that Joni was named Person of the Year, I knew I wanted to be involved in a meaningful way. Brandi and I worked with the producers to paint a beautiful picture of poetry and music through Joni’s eyes.”

Since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015 that left her unable walk or talk, Mitchell has been largely absent from public life. Recently, however, she’s been making more public appearances, such as the speech she gave at last year’s Kennedy Center Honors, where she was handed a lifetime achievement award. Then, April 3rd, she introduced Brandi Carlile’s performance at the 2022 Grammys, where she won Best Historical Album for Joni Mitchell Archives – Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963–1967).

See the performance, below.