Hey Joni Mitchell fans, get your tissues ready. On a TV special tonight, Joni Mitchell: Library of Congress Gershwin Award for Folk Song, Her contemporaries like James Taylor and Herbie Hancock and fans like Brandi Carlile and Diana Krall pay tribute to the legendary singer-songwriter with interpretations of some of her classics.
Among them: Marcus Mumford performs “Carrie”, Herbie Hancock and Lidzie perform “River” and Angelique Kidjo sings “Help Me”.
Mitchell herself, who had largely stopped performing in the two decades before appearing at last year’s Newport Folk Festival, mesmerized the crowd with a lucid, rich rendition of George Gershwin’s “Summertime.”
The March 1 concert was held at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. for the duration of a PBS special, which documents the event, interspersed with photos and videos from Mitchell’s career. Her visual art provides the backdrop as her friends and collaborators take the stage.
“Joni Mitchell’s music strikes you straight to your heart, all the way to your soul,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden before awarding Mitchell the award. “You could say it’s really helped us all look on both sides now.”
Previous winners of the Gershwin Award have been Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney and the songwriting duo of the late Burt Bacharach, the late Hal David, Carole King and Smokey Robinson.
“I am a creative person. I love 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 brushes, you can paint with words… It’s such an honor to have you join the group of recipients.”
Joni Mitchell: Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Folk Song Airs on PBS at 9 p.m. ET tonight. It will be broadcast to US Department of Defense sites around the world via the US Forces Network.
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