Joni Mitchell is a singer-songwriter, painter, and one of the most influential voices in contemporary music. Brought up in small-town Saskatchewan, Mitchell spent her teen years in Saskatoon, where she wrote poetry, learned to play the guitar and had her first paid performances as a folk singer. After high school, she studied art for several years before abandoning formal education in pursuit of artistic freedom. Mitchell began supporting herself with her music, and in 1964, she headed east to Toronto's burgeoning folk music scene. She continued to write songs and develop her distinctive guitar style, often collaborating with other musicians, and moved to New York in 1967. Mitchell went on to perform widely, gathering critical approval and a worldwide following. She has produced 19 albums, the more recent ones revealing her passion for jazz. Mitchell has received multiple Grammy and Juno Awards and numerous honours, including Companion of the Order of Canada.
“[Songs] are all stories. I have to deliver the lines with the right read… when I hear people cover the song River with a smile on their face—and you can hear the smile—that is so wrong for the theatre of the song. It’s melancholy. If you are singing it with a smile, it means you’re just a singer, not a performer.”