Joni Mitchell Takes a Big, Deep Bow

Iconic singer, 79, was awarded the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song on Wednesday
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2023 11:54 AM CST
Joni Mitchell Takes a Big, Deep Bow
Joni Mitchell performs at the presentation of the Gershwin Prize, which honors a musician's lifetime contribution to popular music, hosted at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. She is this year's winner.   (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

Joni Mitchell is 79, a brain-aneurysm survivor, a cultural tour de force, and an American musical icon who got to take a bow among many of her contemporaries Wednesday night. The occasion was the awarding of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Mitchell, which basically consisted of a tribute concert in which some old boyfriends, old friends, and new friends showed up to tip their hats. Only, unlike the rest of us, for Mitchell those people included James Taylor, Graham Nash, Annie Lennox, Cyndi Lauper, Ledisi, Herbie Hancock, Brandi Carlile, and Marcus Mumford. "As you approach the end of a long career, your colleagues from the same graduating class are being honored. It’s a facet of this time of life," James Taylor said, per USA Today.

Mitchell herself took the stage to perform and she didn't opt for one of her own songs, but rather a cover. The AP describes it thusly: The "music legend leaned against the piano Wednesday as she crooned a sultry version of 'Summertime,' the popular tune from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, an appropriate choice since the award was named after the composer." She was then joined by all of the above big names for a performance of "The Circle Game." The whole show airs on PBS on March 31. Previous winners of the Gershwin Prize have included the likes of Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Carole King. (Read more Joni Mitchell stories.)

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