Stars Align to Celebrate Joni Mitchell Winning the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
March 29, 2023
Concert airs Friday on PBS, with CPB support
Musical artists spanning Joni Mitchell’s six-decade career -- including Graham Nash, Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, and Annie Lennox -- paid tribute to Mitchell when the music legend recently received the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song from the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s funding enables the concert to be shared with all Americans on PBS on Friday, March 31 (check local listings). It will also be available to watch on PBS.org, the PBS app, and other digital platforms.
“Oh, my God, it’s overwhelming. It’s just a beautiful event. New friends, old friends — it’s thrilling,” said Mitchell, as she received the award from Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. Flanked by Democratic and Republican members of Congress, Hayden joked about Mitchell’s ability to bring together “Both Sides Now.”
Named for the 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.
On a stage adorned with many of Mitchell’s beautiful paintings, a star-studded lineup of artists performed such familiar Mitchell songs as “Chelsea Morning,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “California,” and “River.” In addition to Nash, Hancock, Taylor, Carlile, and Lennox, other performers included Cyndi Lauper, Marcus Mumford, Diana Krall, Celisse, Ledisi, Lucius, and Angelique Kidjo.
Though Mitchell has rarely performed since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015, she provided the evening’s emotional highlight, performing the Gershwin standard “Summertime” before being joined by the all-star ensemble singing her beloved “Circle Game.”
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, the late songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and 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.
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