Joni Mitchell Performs at the Grammys for the First Time

It’s hard to believe that at 80 years old, after a groundbreaking career in music, there are still new achievements left for Joni Mitchell. But on Sunday night, she did something for the first time: performed on the Grammys.

Joined by Brandi Carlile, Jacob Collier, Lucius, Blake Mills, Allison Russell and SistaStrings, the singer-songwriter played “Both Sides Now.”

Carlile, one of Mitchell’s most high-profile champions, is largely responsible for bringing her hero back to the stage, and she introduced Mitchell, who earlier won the Grammy for best folk album for “Joni Mitchell at Newport.” Nine years ago, Mitchell had an aneurysm and largely vanished from the public eye; her legions of fans feared that her singing days were complete.

But the writer and unmistakable soprano behind classics like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “A Case of You” was not finished. She made a surprise appearance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival alongside Carlile, as well as musicians including Wynonna Judd and Marcus Mumford.

Mitchell followed that performance with an almost three-hour set at Carlile’s Echoes Through the Canyon Festival in George, Wash., last spring. (Two more performances from Joni Mitchell & the Joni Jam are scheduled for October at the Hollywood Bowl.) “To hear Mitchell hit certain notes again in that inimitable voice was like glimpsing, in the wild, a magnificent bird long feared to have gone extinct,” Lindsay Zoladz wrote in a New York Times review of the Washington show.

Mitchell’s recording career, which began in the 1960s, has included her early folk music, the autofiction of her classic albums “Blue” and “Court and Spark,” and the jazz that followed. Decades later, in 1996, Mitchell, then 52, won the Grammys for best pop album and best recording package for “Turbulent Indigo,” her 15th release. “I’ve been contemplating whether to quit music and go into painting, and perhaps I will now,” she said that night.

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