It was Joni Mitchell's night Tuesday (May 17) when performing rights organization ASCAP presented one of the most important female figures in music with its Founders Award at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The fitting tribute to the singer/ songwriter featured the usual video montage of her work, as well as an inspired speech and performance by Stevie Wonder, a few seconds from Janet Jackson, and an all too brief acceptance speech from Mitchell herself.
Jackson -- who used part of Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" in her Velvet Rope track "Got 'Til It's Gone" -- spoke of Mitchell's "unwillingness to compromise" and "willingness to experiment" before shyly leaving the stage. Wonder, however, took the opportunity to not only praise Mitchell for her impressive body of work, but to shout out against the Internet, saying, "I would have hoped people would use the Internet not to spread evil." He then performed Mitchell's "Woodstock."
Taking the stage after a standing ovation, Mitchell simply said she made enough speeches on the tube up there and that she "really [has] enjoyed this evening. Thank you very much."
ASCAP honored songwriters, publishers, and artists in their repertoire whose songs were performed the most in the past year. Fellow performing rights organization BMI holds their Pop Music Awards Tuesday (May 18) to honor their artists, and we'll have the winners for you on Wednesday (May 19).
Other ASCAP honorees included the Beastie Boys, who won the College Radio Award; Diane Warren for Songwriter of the Year (Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" and Toni Braxton's "Un-Break My Heart" were among her winning songs); and Max Martin for Songwriter of the Year ('NSync's "I Want You Back" and Backstreet Boys' "As Long As You Love Me"). The Warren-penned "How Do I Live" (Celine Dion) won Song of the Year.
Here's a partial list of some of the artists who won for songs they wrote or co-wrote: Spice Girls, "2 Become 1"; Brian McKnight, "Anytime"; Fiona Apple, "Criminal"; Semisonic's Dan Wilson, "Closing Time"; No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and former member Eric Stefani, "Don't Speak"; Jewel, "Foolish Games"; Shania Twain, "From This Moment On"; Madaonna, "Frozen"; Donna Lewis, "I Love You Always Forever"; Edwin McCain, "I'll Be"; Natalie Merchant, "Kind and Generous"; Will Smith, "Gettin Jiggy Wit It"; Usher, "Nice and Slow"; Wallflowers' Jakob Dylan, "One Headlight"; Shawn Colvin, "Sunny Came Home"; Fastball's Anthony Scalzo, "The Way"; and Janet Jackson's "Together Again."
For a complete list of the songwriters, artists, and publishers honored at the 1999 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, check out www.ascap.com.