Artists Celebrate Joni Mitchell Receiving Library of Congress Gershwin Prize
Lineup Included James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Marcus Mumford, Graham Nash, Diana Krall, Angelique Kidjo and Ledisi, Premiering March 31 on PBS
Musical artists joined the national library and American leaders to honor music legend Joni Mitchell in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, March 1, as she was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song during an all-star tribute concert.
The lineup included performances by James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, Annie Lennox, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Marcus Mumford, Graham Nash, Angelique Kidjo, Diana Krall, Celisse, Lucius and Ledisi. The concert is by invitation only.
PBS stations will broadcast the concert — “Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” — at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, March 31 (check local listings) and on PBS.org and the PBS App as part of the co-produced Emmy Award-winning music series. It will also be broadcast to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world via the American Forces Network.
Mitchell will also appear at the Library on Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m. ET as part of the Live at the Library series in conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Tickets to the event are no longer available.
Mitchell got her start performing in coffee shops and nightclubs in her native Canada and would go on to become an icon among music makers, setting a new standard marrying music and lyrics. With such songs as “Both Sides, Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock” and “The Circle Game,” Mitchell became a household name.
Mitchell redefined the role of women musicians. She oversaw all aspects of her albums, including songwriting, arrangements, performance, production and artwork. Her sound crosses musical genres from folk to jazz, classical and rock, and she continues to inspire her fellow artists.
Mitchell is also a talented painter, creating the cover art for many of her albums, and her visual art will be featured prominently in the tribute concert, along with her music.
“I’m a creative person. I like the creative process,” Mitchell said. “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.”
Bestowed in recognition of the legendary songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is the nation’s highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music. The honoree is selected by the Librarian of Congress in consultation with a board of scholars, producers, performers, songwriters and other music specialists. Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo the late Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, and Lionel Richie.
“Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” is a co-production of the Library of Congress; WETA Washington, D.C.; and Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc. Corporate funding is provided by Wells Fargo. Major support is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, The Leonore S. Gershwin Trust, and The Ira & Leonore Gershwin Philanthropic Fund. Funding is also provided by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; FTS International; and William C. Burton. Travel is provided by United Airlines.
About Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is an artist of unparalleled gifts as a poet, a songwriter, a musician, a producer, and a painter. She is an icon of modern music and one of the most influential creators of our age. Nearly 60 years after her first performances in Canadian coffee shops and nightclubs, the legend of Mitchell’s genius continues to grow.
Mitchell signed to Reprise Records in 1968, the same year she released her debut, “Song To A Seagull.” The albums that followed set a new standard for the marriage of music and lyrics and made her the premier female singer-songwriter of a revolutionary new generation of artists. With songs like “Both Sides, Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock,” and “The Circle Game,” Mitchell became a household name.
The accolades bestowed on Mitchell have been vast, including multiple Grammy Awards®, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Polar Music Prize, MusiCares Person of the Year, and inductions into both the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In her native Canada, Mitchell has received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honor in the performing arts, and has been named a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor. She was also recently presented an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.
Mitchell has never stopped making art, most recently launching the Joni Mitchell Archives, which began with her curating her vast catalog to reveal hours of previously unissued studio and live recordings. In 2022, Mitchell won a Grammy for producing the first volume in the series, “Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 to 1967).”
This year is set to be another landmark year for Joni Mitchell as she brings her Joni Jam to the stage for her first headlining concert in over two decades at Washington state’s legendary Gorge Amphitheatre in June.
About the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is the nation’s highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music. Established in 2007, the prize honors living musical artists whose contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin. Criteria for selection include: artistic merit; influence in promoting music as a vehicle of cultural understanding; impact and achievement in entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations of musicians.
In making the selection, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library’s Music Division, American Folklife Center and National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.
The Gershwin name is used in connection with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song courtesy of the families of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. GERSHWIN® is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
About Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.
Ken Ehrlich Productions, led by founder and president Ken Ehrlich, is the leading production company in Los Angeles, producing television, specials, series and events for more than 40 years. Ken Ehrlich Productions has produced the Annual GRAMMY Awards, Emmy Awards and concert specials. They have co-produced a number of specials in the “In Performance at the White House” series for PBS, most recently “In Performance at the White House: Spirit of the Season” (2021).They have also produced such varied events as the annual Global Citizens events in Central Park, and the Women’s Cancer Research Fund gala. Additionally, they have produced and directed Las Vegas residencies for Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and John Fogerty. Clients include CBS, NBC and ABC, along with artists from Celine Dion, The Rolling Stones, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez, among others.
WETA is the leading public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio and digital. WETA Washington, D.C., is the second-largest producing station for public television in the United States, with news and public affairs programs including “PBS NewsHour, “PBS News Weekend” and “Washington Week;” films by Ken Burns, such as “The U.S. and the Holocaust” and “Benjamin Franklin;” series and documentaries by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., including “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” and “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine,” performance specials including “In Performance at the White House,” “The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” “National Memorial Day Concert” and “A Capitol Fourth;” and health content from Well Beings, a multiplatform campaign.” More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at weta.org. Visit facebook.com/wetatvfmon Facebook or follow @WETAtvfm on Twitter.
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