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Dr. Joni Mitchell

The Story

Joni Mitchell is a bona fide Canadian institution. Today, her legacy is being enshrined with an honorary degree from McGill University, a symposium on her work and a new orchestral arrangement of her songs. It's a far cry from the day she first noodled around on a guitar as a teen. But that distance is bridged by a pleasant surprise: a conference participant presents her with the very first guitar she ever played. As we see in this clip from CBC-TV, the conference also features some challenging discussions: Mitchell's ambivalent relationship to feminism, her connection with the black community, her childhood polio and her reunion with a child given up for adoption. And Joni Mitchell has a frank question for anyone foolish enough to attempt a career in the music business: "Do you want to be a star, or do you want to be an artist?"

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 7, 2005
Guests: John Day, Joni Mitchell, Ann Powers, Jennifer Rycenga, David Rychpan, Udayan Sen, Greg Tate, Jacqueline Warwick
Host: Alison Smith
Reporter: Lynne Robson
Duration: 15:12
This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.
Special thanks to SL Feldman and Associates and the McGill Faculty of Music. For full credits, see p.5 of "Did You Know."

Did You know?

• In this clip, conference speaker Ann Powers discusses the daughter Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption. Kelly Dale Anderson was born on Feb. 19, 1965, and was renamed Kilauren Gibb after the adoption. As an adult Gibb began searching for her mother, and was reunited with Joni Mitchell in 1997.

• The painful act of surrendering her child was not made public until the 1990s, but it had worked its way into several of Mitchell's songs, including 1971's Little Green (said to be a reference to Kelly, as in "kelly green"):
"Child with a child pretending
Weary of lies you are sending home
So you sign all the papers in the family name
You're sad and you're sorry but you're not ashamed
Little green have a happy ending"

• The honourary degree Joni Mitchell received from McGill was the first such award she had received in Canada. Among her other recent honours are a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2000, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002, and being made a companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.

• Joni Mitchell has stated that she will no longer give concerts or go on tour, but she does make time for occasional public appearances. She lives in Los Angeles (in a mansion said to be worth $9 million) and visits her cabin in Sechelt, B.C. She is mostly focused on painting, although in October 2006 she announced that a new album was in the works.

All artwork by Joni Mitchell
All songs by Joni Mitchell. Circle Game, Night in the City, Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Little Green, and Empty Try Another published by Crazy Crow Music. Both Sides Now published by Siquomb Music Corp. Last Time I Saw Richard published by Joni Mitchell Publishing Corp.
Both Sides Now arranged by John Day.
Video: Universal Music Canada.


Joni Mitchell: All Sides Now more