Joni Mitchell

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Mitchell, Joni,

1943–, Canadian songwriter, singer, guitarist, poet, and painter, b. MacLeod (now Fort Macleod), Alta., as Roberta Joan Anderson; married musician Chuck Mitchell (1965–67). She moved (1967) from Detroit to New York City, and sang on the East Coast folk circuit. She cut her first record, Joni Mitchell, in 1968, the year singer Judy Collins recorded Mitchell's "Both Sides Now." Mitchell's quirky, complex, witty, and often introspective songs, frequently marked by social or feminist concerns, resonated with the young folk-rock audience. She had successive hits with such albums as Clouds (1969; Grammy), Ladies of the Canyon (1970), Blue (1971), and Court and Spark (1974). During the late 1970s she turned to jazz experiments in The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975), Hejira (1976), Mingus (1979), and other albums. She subsequently continued to write, record, and perform, but did not attain the huge popularity of her earlier years. Among her notable later albums are Dog Eat Dog (1985), the Turbulent Indigo (1997; Grammy), and Travelogue (2002).


See Joni Mitchell: The Complete Poems and Lyrics (1997); biographies by B. Hinton (1996), K. O'Brien (2001), and D. Yaffe (2017); Joni Mitchell: Woman of Heart and Mind (documentary, 2003).

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Mitchell, Joni (b. Roberta Joan Anderson)

(1943–  ) singer, songwriter; born in Fort McLeod, Alberta, Canada. Emerging in the 1960s as one of the more sensitive of the folk/ballad singers, she wrote most of her own lyrics and music and had several hits such as "The Circle Game" (1966), "Both Sides Now" (1967), and "Woodstock" (1969). During the 1970s she toured and produced best-selling albums such as Ladies of the Canyon (1971), and began adding pop and jazz elements to her style. This new phase was not well received, and in the 1980s she went back to her original style of poetic-personal songs, which by then had influenced a whole generation of women singers.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.