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Joni Mitchell, at 78, Plays and Sings Again to Joyful Fans

Joni Mitchell arrives at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Joni Mitchell arrives at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 3, 2022, in Las Vegas.
Joni Mitchell, at 78, Plays and Sings Again to Joyful Fans
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Famed Canadian musician Joni Mitchell held a show this week in the United States, almost 20 years after her last live concert.

The 78-year-old artist sang and played guitar Sunday at the Newport Folk Festival in the American state of Rhode Island. Seated much of the time, Mitchell performed with a crowd of other well-known musicians, including American singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile. It was Mitchell's first appearance at the Newport festival since 1969.

The highly-awarded singer-songwriter has struggled with health problems since suffering from an aneurysm in 2015. The condition caused bleeding in her brain. Mitchell temporarily lost her ability to speak, walk and play guitar.

Her last full show was in late 2002, but she has appeared at special events since then. Her 75th birthday was the center of a celebration in Los Angeles. She was an honoree at the 44th Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime artistic achievement in December last year.

Speaking before the Honors ceremony, Brandi Carlile said of Mitchell, “She changed my life… She invented the confessional singer songwriter. She invented a job for me.”

This was, Carlile explained, similar to the "Joni Jam" musical gatherings that have brought famous friends like Elton John to Mitchell's Los Angeles home in recent years.

And Mitchell did not just sing. Halfway through the performance, she played an electric guitar. It was her first time playing guitar in public since her aneurysm, Carlile said. In an interview with CBS News, Mitchell said she had re-learned how to play guitar by watching videos online.

On Sunday, the concert highlighted some Mitchell's biggest hit songs including Circle Game and Big Yellow Taxi. The performers also covered some of Mitchell’s favorite work by other artists, including the songs Love Potion No. 9 and Why Do Fools Fall in Love.

The whole event proved emotionally moving. Many of the performers, and those watching the show, cried a little as Mitchell’s strong voice filled the air.

After they sang Mitchell’s Both Sides Now," Carlile herself was fighting back tears. Looking out at the crowd of fans watching and cheering, she asked, "Did the world just stop?"

I’m Jill Robbins.

Jill Robbins adapted this report from the Associated Press for Learning English.


Words in This Story

concertn. a performance of music

confessv. to admit or say something is true; to say one’s heartfelt thoughts and feelings

interviewn. a meeting at which information is obtained (as by a reporter, television commentator, or pollster) from a person

jamn. an informal performance of music

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