Joni Mitchell has been a part-time resident of B.C. since 1971 when she bought a 40-acre retreat home north of Halfmoon Bay on the Sunshine Coast. She ranks with Bryan Adams as the most-heard-of and most-heard B.C. author. Born at Fort MacLeod, Alberta, in 1943, she was christened Roberta Joan by her parents William and Myrtle Anderson. Her father was an ex-RCAF officer and a grocery store manager. When the family moved to Saskatoon, Joni Mitchell took piano lessons and taught herself to play the guitar from an instruction book, developing her penchant for unusual tunings. She attended Alberta College of Art in Calgary and was encouraged by friends to perform as a folksinger in Toronto. She worked briefly as a department store clerk in order to her earn $140 for the musicians' union fee. In Toronto she met a singer from Detroit named Chuck Mitchell, whom she married in 1965. She went to Detroit to sing at coffeehouses before they broke up in 1966. Joni Mitchell moved from New York to California's Laurel Canyon in 1968. Prior to her professional career as a solo act, she had a child that was given up for adoption. She reunited with her daughter in the 1990s, with mixed results.

As a British Columbian, Mitchell has kept a low profile, vising several times a year, or less. In the summer of 1995, however, she made a rare stage appearance without an instrument in order to discuss her writing as part of the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt. Prior to her introduction, she confessed she was extremely nervous about presenting herself as a writer. Since then Joni Mitchell has been involved in numerous book projects, having rejected the music industry and devoted more of her time to her painting. Several book projects have arisen in conjunction with her lyrics and art, but a long-in-progress autobiography or authorized biography has yet to appear. She was featured on the cover of BC BookWorld, Summer, 1995.

[Illustration: Joni Mitchell with fellow Canadian songwriter Leonard Cohen.]


Joni Mitchell: Lyrics & Poems (Random House, 1997)

The Circle Game (Cormorant 2011). Illustrated by Brian Deines ISBN 9781770860421 | 9.5" x 11.5" | HC | Full colour illustrations $20 | Age: 3-6 | 32 pp

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2011] "Music"