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Canada Honors Joni   Print

by Karen Bliss
RollingStone.com
October 19, 2001

"I'd like that little spot on the sidewalk to be a place where you don't spit," quipped singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, during her thank-you speech at her induction ceremony for Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto.

Mitchell, who was honored alongside Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, received a key to the city, a granite-based trophy and a granite star on the sidewalk in Toronto's theater district on King Street West. "I'm not certain what committee or voting system brought me to this podium, but I'm very honored," she said. "I didn't have to pay for this star on the sidewalk. They buy them in Hollywood. This is not corrupt, so I'm very honored for that."

As a couple of hundred people assembled outside the cordoned-off section in front of the Royal Alex Theatre to view the noontime event, bagpiping brothers Rob and Sandy Campell of rock band Mudmen opened the proceedings.

Mitchell and Atwood took seats on the makeshift stage, then the emcee asked for a minute of silence to honor those who perished in the September 11th tragedy. The bagpipers continued with "Amazing Grace," after which Camilla Scott, star of the ABBA musical Mama Mia at the Royal Alex, sang both the American and Canadian national anthems.

Although Mitchell was born in Fort McLeod, moved to Toronto in 1965 and began performing in coffeehouses and folk clubs there, she is now based in the U.S. She has had an illustrious career, starting with her David Crosby-produced Songs to a Seagull debut in 1968 to last year's Both Sides Now collection, with an output to date of twenty-one albums. She is also an accomplished painter whose work has enhanced her own album covers.

"What does it open?" Mitchell asked when Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman presented her the key.

"It opens the hearts of all the people of Toronto, and it is given on behalf of all the people of Toronto," he responded.

In the seated area for VIPs sat Mitchell's husband, daughter, grandchildren and manager, as well as Canadian film directors Norman Jewison and David Croenenberg. "It's a warm support group," Mitchell later told the press.

In the second part of the ceremony, she was given a star trophy she could actually take home, prior to the unveiling of the permanent star on the sidewalk.

"For my star, I hope if you're crossing over it, since the world is moving so fast and has gone so mad, that you would slow down a little bit as you would cross over it, think of something funny or something kind -- think of someone you love," Mitchell said. "If you're thinking of someone that you don't love as you're crossing over it, put them out of mind . . . Just use it as a little contemplative place. Sit there and have a private chuckle, and that would make me very happy. That would make it practical and useful."

Mitchell and Atwood were then asked to step over to the sidewalk where they removed the white plastic coverings over their stars, and posted for picture crouching down. Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning" was played over the speakers at the close of the half-hour ceremony.

 

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