Joni Mitchell is finally getting her due.
Berklee College of Music bestowed an honorary doctorate Tuesday on Mitchell, saying she and her songs represent the college’s values. Specifically, Berklee’s Office of the President and Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice presented the honors.
The event took place at a private residence in Santa Monica, California, Berklee’s website said. Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter attended.
Berklee President Erica Muhl remarked in her introduction, “Since her debut in the late 1960s, Joni has been a force for change in the industry, blazing the trail for women in music with an unwavering commitment to achieving the status rightfully due her as one of the world’s great musical artists.”
“I am thrilled that we are finally able to honor Joni Mitchell,” Carrington said. “Her career and social principles stand for the values our institute pursues — imagination, freedom, equity, and identity. I can think of no one more deserving.”
Mitchell followed the introductions with her own remarks.
“Well, luckily I’m too old to get a swelled head,” she said. “It’s a beautiful event. Words can’t describe it. I’ve got my good friends here with me.” Mitchell added, “I wish my parents were alive. My mother in particular would be really proud of this because she wanted me to go to college. I went to art school and I quit after a year. She thinks of me as a quitter. So to see this achievement would be really impressive to her. I wish I could share it with her.”
2022: The Year Of Joni Mitchell
Mitchell deserves an honor such as the one Berklee granted her. While Bob Dylan has sold more than 125 million records and James Taylor has sold more than 100 million, Mitchell’s number hovers around 7 million. And yet, she endures as one of the most seminal artists in the folk genre.
Mitchell received Kennedy Center Honors in December. This year she won the Grammy for Best Historical Album (Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years [1963-1967]). Also this year, she was named the 2022 MusiCares Person of the Year.
Last but not least, Mitchell played her first full concert in more than 20 years at the famed Newport Folk Festival.