In a heartwarming twist of fate, the legendary Joni Mitchell, aged 80, made her long-awaited debut at the Grammy Awards, just hours after clinching her 10th career Grammy. Despite her rich history of Grammy success and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, this marked Mitchell’s first time bringing her soulful voice and acoustic guitar to the Grammy stage.
For this momentous occasion, Mitchell chose to perform “Both Sides, Now,” one of her most beloved ballads, accompanied by an ensemble of talented musicians, including Brandi Carlile, Lucius, Jacob Collier, Black Mills, Allison Russell, and SistaStrings.
Seated on a regal gold fabric throne amidst dim lighting, Mitchell delivered the poignant song with her trademark lived-in rasp, bringing a profound understanding of its emotional lyrics about the complexities of life. Tapping her cane in rhythm with the music, Mitchell smiled as the audience showered her with a well-deserved ovation.
As Brandi Carlile aptly expressed in her introduction, “(Joni) redefined the purpose of a song to reflect the contents of a person’s soul.”
Mitchell’s latest Grammy win, Best Folk Album, was for her live recording, “Joni Mitchell at Newport,” celebrated during the pre-show with Carlile by her side. Mitchell expressed joy in accepting the award, sharing insights about the record’s uplifting spirit from the concert. This live album marked her return to the public stage after a surprise appearance at the 2022 event, breaking a 20-year hiatus from performing.
The recent resurgence of Joni Mitchell, facilitated by her “Joni Jams” alongside artists like Brandi Carlile, Marcus Mumford, Hozier, and Annie Lennox, has been nothing short of remarkable. Her retirement following a 2015 brain aneurysm did not hinder her musical prowess. Last summer, the “Joni Jams” came into the public eye with a show at the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington.
Joni Mitchell’s influence extends beyond recent performances, with accolades such as a Kennedy Center Honor in 2021, MusiCares Person of the Year in 2022, and the 2023 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Recently announcing “Joni Jams” at the Hollywood Bowl in October, Mitchell continues to captivate audiences, marking her first appearances in Los Angeles since 2000.
This Grammy debut and the subsequent celebration of Mitchell’s achievements affirm her timeless impact on the music industry and her enduring place in the hearts of fans worldwide.