Joni Mitchell, CC, (born Roberta Joan Anderson; November 7, 1943) is a Canadian musician, songwriter, and painter. Mitchell began singing in small nightclubs in her native Western Canada and then busking on the streets of Toronto. In the mid-1960s she left for New York City and its rich folk music scene, recording her debut album in 1968 and achieving fame first as a songwriter ("Urge for Going", "Chelsea Morning", "Both Sides, Now", "Woodstock") and then as a singer in her own right. Finally settling in Southern California, Mitchell played a key part in the folk rock movement then sweeping the musical landscape. Blue, her starkly personal 1971 album, is regarded as one of the strongest and most influential records of the time. Mitchell also had pop hits such as "Big Yellow Taxi", "Free Man in Paris", and "Help Me", the last two from 1974's best-selling Court and Spark.
Mitchell's distinctive harmonic guitar style, and piano arrangements all grew more complex through the 1970s as she was deeply influenced by jazz, melding it with pop, folk and rock on experimental albums like 1976's Hejira. She worked closely with jazz greats including Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, and on a 1979 record released after his death, Charles Mingus. From the 1980s on, Mitchell reduced her recording and touring schedule but turned again toward pop, making greater use of synthesizers and direct political protest in her lyrics, which often tackled social and environmental themes alongside romantic and emotional ones.
Mitchell's work is highly respected both by critics and fellow musicians. Rolling Stone magazine called her "one of the greatest songwriters ever," while Allmusic said, "When the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century." Mitchell is also a visual artist. She created the artwork for each of her albums, and in 2000 described herself as a "painter derailed by circumstance." A blunt critic of the music industry, Mitchell stopped recording over the last several years, focusing more attention on painting, but in 2007 she released Shine, her first album of new songs in nine years.