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May 2013

Folk Refiner: Joni Mitchell
Seven-time Grammy Award winner, painter

A child of the Prairies, Mitchell was born in Fort Macleod, Alta., in 1943, and at the age of 20, dropped out of art school and headed eastward to Ontario to try her hand (and voice and guitar) on the folk circuit. Within a few years, she had won the respect of such '60s folk notables as Dave Van Ronk, David Crosby and Judy Collins.

From our first discovery, Mitchell captivated us with her open-hearted lyrics and ability to craft songs both uplifting and gut-wrenching, and later with the saga of her reunion with the daughter she put up for adoption. And we're pretty sure that every bohemian, poet and artist worth her Birkenstocks in the past 30-odd years has torn a page from Mitchell's well-worn, never outdated, book of style: unpredictable mixes of textures, patterns, cottons and silks; Victorian-influenced garments combined cleverly with clean Nordic lines; a broad smile, prairie-grass hair, deeply thoughtful eyes, the highest of cheekbones and an instrument as accessory. If you need proof of influence, join the three million other viewers who've watched YouTube clips of her singing "California" on the BBC in 1970 in a perfectly 2013 pale pink gown with crocheted T-shirts sleeves.

 

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