The legend was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington, D.C. on March 1.
Joni Mitchell is being honored for her profound impact on music. The Canadian-born singer accepted the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington, D.C., on March 1, surrounded by friends and fans who were there to celebrate her legacy. "My God, it's overwhelming," Mitchell, 79, said as she appeared onstage to accept the award, reported PEOPLE.
"It's just a beautiful event for me. So many people that I care about are here tonight from different parts of my life. New friends, old friends. It's just kind of thrilling. Thank you all for coming," she added. The award "celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects the influence, impact, and achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding," according to the Library. Previous Gershwin Prize winners include Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Carole King and Paul McCartney.
“You don’t know what you’ve got 'til it’s gone,” @jonimitchell famously wrote. But at last night's #GershwinPrize concert, Mitchell showed us: She’s still got it. Her performance & those of the artists who honored her will air on @PBS, March 31 at 9 p.m. EST. #GershwinPrizePBS pic.twitter.com/kfp2G9TqSO— Library of Congress (@librarycongress) March 2, 2023
This night was a star-studded one, honoring Mitchell's music, with Mitchell herself choosing a handful of friends and collaborators to sing some of their favorite songs of hers. Marcus Mumford kicked things off with Carey, and other performances included Annie Lennox singing Both Sides Now, Angélique Kidjo singing Help Me, Brandi Carlile singing Shine, James Taylor performing California, and Cyndi Lauper doing Blue.
Graham Nash, who dated Mitchell in the late '60s sang A Case of You as photos and videos of their time together played behind him, while Diana Krall performed For the Roses, and Herbie Hancock and Ledisi sang River. The ladies of the night also teamed up to sing Big Yellow Taxi, during which a seated Mitchell grooved from her chair, as she sang the song's final line.
Mitchell has only recently begun to slowly get back into the spotlight following a devastating brain aneurysm in 2015, she delighted her fans with a pair of performances, her first since she surprised the crowd at Newport Folk Festival in July with a 13-song set.
For her first song, she sang the classic Summertime as a nod to George and Ira Gershwin, the namesake of her prize."It's so exciting to see all of these musicians that I admire performing my music," she told the crowd. "And I wanted to kind of express my gratitude by singing a Gershwin song. Yeah. So I'm gonna sing 'Summertime.'"
"Her resilience is palpable," Carlile told reporters on the red carpet. "She's been so resilient, and it's one of the first things Joni ever said to me when I met her. The first time I saw her, she couldn't stand up. And the second time I saw her, she walked into a restaurant... She said, 'This is the third time I've learned to walk. Once out of infancy, once out of polo, and once again now.' And I remember just thinking, 'God, you're a beast!' You know what I mean? Just a total pillar."
Joni and @BrandiCarlile backstage at the Newport Folk Festival 💙— Joni Mitchell (@jonimitchell) October 26, 2022
The duo return for ‘Echoes Through the Canyon’ at the Gorge Amphitheater on 6/10/2023. Sign up for tomorrow’s presale access, starting at 10am PT, and passcode at https://t.co/agJK2reJl3
Photo by Nina Westervelt pic.twitter.com/g8VXszIGFq
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden — who awarded Mitchell her prize alongside a number of US senators — called Mitchell a "musical genius" in a statement ahead of the award ceremony.
"Joni Mitchell's music and artistry have left a distinct impression on American culture and internationally, crossing from folk music with a distinctive voice whose songs will stay with us for the ages," Hayden said. This award is the latest in a parade of accolades for the 79-year-old Canadian icon. She was appointed a Kennedy Center Honor in 2021 and named the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2022, per USA Today.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Emma McIntyre