Joni Mitchell Triumphantly Returns to the Stage for First Full Performance Since Brain Aneurysm

Joni Mitchell Newport Folk Festival 2022
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Joni Mitchell stole the show at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on Sunday, where she joined Brandi Carlile to perform a selection of her most enduring classics. The set marked Mitchell's first full show since 2000, and her first since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015 that left her without the ability to do things like play guitar, swim, or even get out of bed.

"I've never been nervous about being in front of an audience, but I wanted to be good and I wasn't sure that I could be," Mitchell admitted in a post-show interview with CBS News. "But I didn't sound too bad tonight." 

The emotional moment was the latest in Mitchell's recent career resurgence. The 78-year-old icon was recognized at the Kennedy Center Honors in December 2021, and as MusiCares' Person of the Year during this year's GRAMMY weekend. She gave a brief performance during the latter, while also accepting a GRAMMY award for Best Historical Album at the awards' ceremony. 

The singer, however, remains humble about her recent accolades, telling CBS News that, "I think having a brush with death like that kind of softens people to me."

Mitchell, who taught herself to walk again as a 9-year-old child recovering from Polio, says her brain surgeon told her she's filled with "will and grit." In recent years, she has willed herself to pick up her guitar and watched online videos on how to play. 

"I'm learning," she said. "I'm looking at videos that are on the net to see where I put my fingers. It's amazing what an aneurysm knocks out-- how to get out of a chair, you don't know how to get out of a bed. ... Going back to infancy, almost. You have to relearn everything. "

Sunday's set was originally billed as Brandi Carlile and Friends, but later dubbed the "Joni Jam." The duo were joined on stage by a plethora of artists, including  Blake Mills, Taylor Goldsmith, Marcus Mumford, Wynonna Judd, Lucius’ Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, among others, playing "Big Yellow Taxi," "Summertime," "Love Potion No. 9," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," and more.

Learn more about Mitchell's incredible recovery below. 


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