She relearned to play guitar after her brain aneurysm by watching videos of herself "to see where I put my fingers.
Joni Mitchell is now 79 years old and has some mobility issues and walks with a cane, but her vocal talent is still evergreen. She recently shocked fans with her voice after suffering a brain aneurysm. The legendary singer-songwriter gave a surprise performance after accepting the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. According to NPR the icon has largely stopped performing in the last two decades but delivered a profound performance and mesmerized the audience with a clear rendition of George Gershwin's Summertime.
Fans were delighted to hear that her voice is just as incredible as ever. One person commented, "Her voice is still smooth as butter!!! Love her!" Another added, "Her range may have changed but that voice is still pure silk. Gorgeous." 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 recipients of the Gershwin Prize include Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, and Sir Paul McCartney to name a few. "I'm a creative person. I like the creative process," Mitchell said in a statement. "I've been a painter all my life. I've been a musician most of my life. If you can paint with a brush, you can paint with words. ... It's a great honor to join the pantheon of recipients."
The Canadian-born singer accepted the award on March 1, surrounded by friends and fans who were there to celebrate her legacy. "My God, it's overwhelming," Mitchell 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," the Grammy winner added.
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. In an interview with CBS News, she opened up about losing the ability to speak and walk, or even get out of a chair. She described the experience of the last few years as "a return to infancy." Her resilience is incredible as she relearned to play guitar by watching videos of herself "to see where I put my fingers."
Dr. Anthony Wang, a neurosurgeon at Ronald Reagan UCLA Hospital, expressed shock at the legend's recovery. "To be able to recover to the point of being able to perform as a musician is really incredible," Wang told NPR. Brain surgeons often use "return-to-work" to determine a successful functional recovery, he explained. "But very rarely is that work quite so nuanced." Her recovery must have taken immense commitment, he added.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Amy Sussman