Friday, May 24, 2024

Joni Mitchell All Star Tribute on PBS Featuring James Taylor, Brandi Carlile, Cyndi Lauper, Marcus Mumford, Stolen by…Joni Mitchell, Of Course!


The supernaturally gifted Joni Mitchell stole her own tribute show tonight, the PBS Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.

There are plenty of stars on this show including Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, Annie Lennox, Cyndi Lauper, Ledisi, the omnipresent Brandi Carlile, Diana Krall, Graham Nash and so on. And they are all excellent, performing Joni’s songs. Star band leader Greg Phillinganes as lined up an A list band of jazz musicians who bring light and texture to the set list.

But who steals the show? Why, Joni, of course! Her performance of the Gershwins’ “Summertime” outstrips everything else on the bill. Her voice, as Laura Nyro once wrote, is “a choir of carousels.” After all of her health struggles, the fact that Mitchell is walking and talking is a miracle. But listen to her sing now, it’s like the old Joni. Amazing and wonderful.

This is a show not to be missed on PBS. Check your listings.

Previous recipients of the Gershwin Award are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo the late 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. My vote for next honoree is Carly Simon. Her songs fit the Gershwin bill to a tee.

Here’s “Summertime.” Listen to Philliganes’ piano, it’s sublime.

PS Sitting behind Joni, notably, is director Cameron Crowe. He recently announced he’s writing and directing her biopic. He’s been a great friend to Joni and vice versa for decades. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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