Roberta Joan Anderson
b.7 Nov 1943 Alberta, Canada
Facts and Events
Joni Mitchell, (born Roberta Joan Anderson; November 7, 1943) is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter.
Joni Mitchell, CC (born Roberta Joan Anderson; November 7, 1943), is a Canadian musician, singer songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in Saskatchewan and Western Canada and then busking in the streets and dives of Toronto. In 1965 she moved to the United States and, touring constantly, began to be recognized when her original songs ("Urge for Going", "Chelsea Morning", "Both Sides, Now", "The Circle Game") were covered by notable folk singers, allowing her to sign with Reprise Records and record her own debut album in 1968.
Settling in Southern California, Mitchell, with popular songs like "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Woodstock", helped define an era and a generation. Her more starkly personal 1971 recording Blue has been called one of the best albums ever made. Musically restless, Mitchell switched labels and began moving toward jazz rhythms by way of lush pop textures on 1974's Court and Spark, her best-selling LP, featuring the radio hits "Help Me" and "Free Man in Paris".
Her wide-ranging vocals and distinctive open-tuned guitar and piano compositions grew more harmonically and rhythmically complex as she explored jazz, melding it with influences of rock and roll, R&B, classical music, and non-western beats. Her run of experimental, jazz-inspired albums, including 1975's The Hissing of Summer Lawns and 1976's Hejira, confused many people and hurt her sales at the time, but they are acclaimed today. In the late 1970s, she began working closely with noted jazz musicians, among them Jaco Pastorius, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, and Charles Mingus; the latter asked her to collaborate on his final recordings. She turned again toward pop, embraced electronic music, and engaged in political protest.
She is the sole record producer credited on most of her albums, including all her work in the 1970s. With roots in visual art, she has designed her own album artwork throughout her career. A blunt critic of the music industry, she quit touring and released her 17th, and reportedly last, album of original songs in 2007. She describes herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance."
Mitchell has deeply influenced fellow musicians in a diverse range of genres, and her work is highly respected by critics. Allmusic said, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century," and Rolling Stone called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever." Her lyrics are noted for their developed poetics, addressing social and environmental ideals alongside personal feelings of romantic longing, confusion, disillusion, and joy.