PBS to Premiere Concert Special Honoring Joni Mitchell on March 31
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden today announced that Joni Mitchell, an icon among music makers, will be the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Mitchell will be honored with a tribute concert March 1 in Washington, D.C., that will premiere on PBS stations nationwide on March 31 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings).
After getting her start performing in coffee shops and nightclubs in her native Canada, Mitchell would go on to set a new standard marrying music and lyrics. With such songs as “Both Sides, Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock” and “The Circle Game,” Mitchell became a household name.
“Joni Mitchell’s music and artistry have left a distinct impression on American culture and internationally, crossing from folk music with a distinctive voice whose songs will stay with us for the ages,” Hayden said. “Joni Mitchell’s music has so many artists and music lovers all singing her tunes. We are honored to present the Gershwin Prize to this musical genius.”
While Mitchell’s early music is often categorized as “folk,” her sound draws as much from jazz, classical and rock as she crossed various musical genres. Her music often encompasses bespoke tunings and song structures that defy categorization. As a lyricist, she delves deeply into both the personal and political, unafraid to explore the raw reality of living underneath societal norms and time-worn traditions
Mitchell redefined the role of women musicians. She oversaw all aspects of her albums, including songwriting, arrangements, performance, production and artwork.
“This is a very prestigious award,” Mitchell said. “Thank you for honoring me.”
Bestowed in recognition of the legendary 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. 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, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, Carole King, Billy Joel, Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks, and Lionel Richie.
Mitchell will receive the Gershwin Prize at an all-star concert in Washington, D.C., on March 1. PBS stations nationwide will premiere the concert — “Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” — at 9 p.m. ET on Friday, March 31, (check local listings), available via broadcast and on PBS.org and the PBS App as part of the co-produced Emmy Award-winning music series. It will also be available to U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world via the American Forces Network.
“We are very proud to be the home of the Gershwin Prize, and help celebrate the legacy of Joni Mitchell,” said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Joni blazed a new trail for singer-songwriters, and her influence continues to echo through the music of some of today’s most popular artists. We look forward to sharing this celebration of Joni’s artistry and art with our audiences.”
“Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song” is a co-production of WETA Washington, D.C.; Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.; and the Library of Congress. The executive producers are Dr. Carla Hayden for the Library of Congress; John F. Wilson for WETA Washington, D.C.; and Ken Ehrlich for Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc. The senior producer for WETA is Jim Corbley. The producers are Renato Basile for Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.; Susan H. Vita and Jarrod MacNeil for the Library of Congress; and Kate Kelly for WETA. The production supervisor is Paige Hadley. The program director is Sandra Restrepo. The music director is Rickey Minor. The executive in charge for PBS is Bill Gardner.
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About Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell is an artist of unparalleled gifts as a poet, a songwriter, a musician, a producer, and a painter. She is an icon of modern music and one of the most influential creators of our age. Nearly 60 years after her first performances in Canadian coffee shops and nightclubs, the legend of Mitchell’s genius continues to grow.
Mitchell signed to Reprise Records in 1968, the same year she released her debut, “Song To A Seagull.” The albums that followed set a new standard for the marriage of music and lyrics and made her the premier female singer-songwriter of a revolutionary new generation of artists. With songs like “Both Sides, Now,” “Chelsea Morning,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Woodstock,” and “The Circle Game,” Mitchell became a household name.
The accolades bestowed on Mitchell have been vast, including multiple Grammy Awards®, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Polar Music Prize, MusiCares Person of the Year, and inductions into both the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In her native Canada, Mitchell has received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Canada’s highest honor in the performing arts, and has been named a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor. She was also recently presented an honorary doctorate from the Berklee College of Music.
Mitchell has never stopped making art, most recently launching the Joni Mitchell Archives, which began with her curating her vast catalog to reveal hours of previously unissued studio and live recordings. In 2022, Mitchell won a Grammy for producing the first volume in the series, “Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963 to 1967).”
This year is set to be another landmark year for Joni Mitchell as she brings her Joni Jam to the stage for her first headlining concert in over two decades at Washington state’s legendary Gorge Amphitheatre in June.
About the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is the nation’s highest award for influence, impact and achievement in popular music. Established in 2007, the prize honors living musical artists whose contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin. Criteria for selection include: artistic merit; influence in promoting music as a vehicle of cultural understanding; impact and achievement in entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations of musicians.
In making the selection, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library’s Music Division, American Folklife Center and National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.
The Gershwin name is used in connection with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song courtesy of the families of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. GERSHWIN® is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
About Ken Ehrlich Productions, Inc.
Ken Ehrlich Productions, led by founder and president Ken Ehrlich, is the leading production company in Los Angeles, producing television, specials, series and events for more than 40 years. Ken Ehrlich Productions has produced the Annual GRAMMY Awards, Emmy Awards and concert specials. They have co-produced a number of specials in the “In Performance at the White House” series for PBS, most recently “In Performance at the White House: Spirit of the Season” (2021). They have also produced such varied events as the annual Global Citizens events in Central Park, and the Women’s Cancer Research Fund gala. Additionally, they have produced and directed Las Vegas residencies for Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and John Fogerty. Clients include CBS, NBC and ABC, along with artists from Celine Dion, The Rolling Stones, Ricky Martin and Jennifer Lopez, among others.
WETA is the leading public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on television, radio and digital. WETA Washington, D.C., is the second-largest producing station for public television in the United States, with news and public affairs programs including “PBS NewsHour, “PBS News Weekend” and “Washington Week;” films by Ken Burns, such as “The U.S. and the Holocaust” and “Benjamin Franklin;” series and documentaries by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., including “Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr.” and “Making Black America: Through the Grapevine,” performance specials including “In Performance at the White House,” “The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song,” “National Memorial Day Concert” and “A Capitol Fourth;” and health content from Well Beings, a multiplatform campaign.” More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at weta.org. Visit facebook.com/wetatvfm on Facebook or follow @WETAtvfm on Twitter.
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