Born Roberta Joan Anderson in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada, Joni is a world renowned Canadian musician, songwriter, and painter.
At the age of nine, Mitchell contracted polio during a Canadian epidemic, but she recovered. It was during this time that she first became interested in singing.
As a teenager, Joni taught herself ukulele and, later, guitar. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Western Canada and then busking on the streets of Toronto. In the mid-1960s she left for New York City and recorded her debut album in 1968.
She initially found fame as a songwriter; "Urge for Going," "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides, Now," and "Woodstock" perhaps the most notable songs among many.
Blue, her starkly personal 1971 album, is regarded as one of the strongest and most influential records of the time. Mitchell also had pop hits such as "Big Yellow Taxi", "Free Man in Paris", and "Help Me", the last two from 1974's best-selling Court and Spark.
Eventually moving to Southern California, Mitchell played a key part in the burgeoning folk rock movement.
In the 1970s Joni incorporated jazz elements in her songs, melding it with pop, folk and rock. For her 1976 album, Hejira, she worked closely with jazz greats including Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, and on a 1979 record released after his death, Charles Mingus.
From the 1980s on, Mitchell reduced her recording and touring schedule but turned again toward pop, making greater use of synthesizers and direct political protest in her lyrics, which often tackled social and environmental themes alongside romantic and emotional ones.
Rolling Stone magazine called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever," and Allmusic said, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century."
Mitchell also created the artwork for each of her albums, and in 2000 described herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance."
A blunt critic of the music industry, Mitchell had stopped recording over the last several years, focusing more attention on painting, but in 2007 she released Shine, her first album of new songs in nine years.
In 2002 she became only the third popular Canadian singer/songwriter (Gordon Lightfoot and Leonard Cohen being the other two), to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada's highest civilian honor. She received an honorary doctorate in music from McGill University in 2004.
In January 2007 she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. In June 2007 Canada Post featured Mitchell on a postage stamp. In November, 2006, the album Blue was listed by Time magazine as among the "All-Time 100 Albums."
In 1999 Mitchell was listed as fifth on VH1's list of "The 100 Greatest Women of Rock N' Roll." In 2010, Vh1 would name her the #44 Greatest Artist of All Time.
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