|Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell CC
|November 7, 1943
Born in 1943 as Roberta Joan “Joni” Mitchell, the Canadian singer is a legend. Her songs reflect social and environmental ideas. But she also puts her feelings about romance, confusion, and joy in her songs. Joni Mitchell dances around the genres of folk, pop, rock, and even jazz. She is like a chameleon, able to adjust to anything. So, how much is Joni Mitchell’s fortune?
Well, for a girl that started singing in small nightclubs in Saskatoon, she went well. Before busking in the streets and nightclubs in Toronto, Joni sang in small cities and clubs. And then in 1965, she moved to the US, launching her career.
The New York Times chose her album Blue as “one of the 25 albums that represented turning points and pinnacles in 20th-century popular music” in 2000. Let’s take a look at her career, earnings, and net worth.
Born in November 1943, in Fort Macleod, Alberta, she has Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian heritage. Her mother has Irish and Scottish ancestry, and her father has Norwegian ancestry. Her mother worked as a teacher and her father worked in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flight lieutenant.
During her childhood, she moved to different bases in western Canada, following her father. And after WWII, her father left the army and started working as a grocer. He moved his family to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. At the time, Joni was 11 years old.
In many of her songs, she sings about her small-town upbringing. Fun fact: she struggled during her school days. Mitchell loved painting and briefly studied classical piano.
The turning point for Joni came at age 9. She contracted polio in an epidemic and got hospitalized for weeks. Following the incident, she started focusing on her creative talent and considered either singing or a dancing career. At the time, she smoked, but she denies that smoking made an impact on her voice.
So, she started singing, and at this point, country music overtook rock as the popular genre. So, she wanted to play the guitar but settled for the ukulele. But eventually, she taught herself to play the guitar.
Because of polio, she had to devise alternative tunings to compensate. The illness weakened her left hand. But she later used these tunings to create a nonstandard approach to harmony and structure in her songwriting.
In the beginning, Mitchell sang with her friends at bonfires around Waskesiu Lake. She got her first paid performance in October 1962, at a Saskatoon club featuring folk and jazz performers. By the time she turned 18, she widened her repertoire with performers like Edith Piaf and Miles Davis.
During her college days, she played gigs as a folk musician and worked at a coffeehouse. She made some appearances on local TV and radio shows. And in 1964, at the age of 20, she left home and went to Toronto to start a career as a folk singer. Because she lacked money for the union fees, she played at a few gigs in Toronto. At this point, she mostly played non-union gigs in church basements.
With no name recognition, veteran performers had exclusive rights for some songs. She ran into what people call “territorial songs”. By late 1964, she found out she carried a baby inside her. She got pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, who left her three-months pregnant with no money in an attic room. While she sang about her daughter, nobody knew about her existence until 1993. Unable to provide for her, she gave her daughter for adoption.
By the end of the 1960s, Mitchell had her breakthrough moment. David Crosby listened to her in a club and took her to Los Angeles. Soon after, Elliot Roberts started managing her. Joni released her debut album, Song to a Seagull, and then toured to promote it. The tour created anticipation for her second LP, Clouds, released in April 1969.
Her next album, Clouds, helped her earn her first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. She then released her third album, Ladies of the Canyon, and her sound expanded. At this point, Joni produced more than just folk music, she also included pop and rock elements. For example, her songs contained more percussion, backing vocals, and compositions on the piano.
Ladies of the Canyon got gold certification by selling more than 500,000 copies. At this point, she stopped touring for one year, and just wrote and pain.
In June 1971, she released her album Blue, an instant critical and commercial success. This album contains the evergreen hit song, Carey. Blue departed further from the sounds of Ladies of the Canyon. Instead, it put more focus on her voice and emotions.
After the success of Blue, she wanted to return to the live stage. By the mid-1970s, she started working on her first double studio album. She wanted a looser album. For that purpose, she collaborated with drummer Don Alias, Chaka Khan, and more.
In the 1980s, Mitchell worked with her friend David Geffen, who founded a new label, Geffen Records. She released the album Wild Things Run Fast, signaling a return to pop songwriting. During this period, she recorded with bassist Larry Klein, the man she later got married to. It lasted for 12 years, from 1982 to 1994.
During the 1980s, Mitchell went on a world tour, visiting Japan, Ireland, the UK, France, Germany, Scandinavia, Australia, and then going back to the US. She videotaped her performance and then released it on home video.
During the 1990s, she released a Greatest Hits collection. Joni also released her final set of original new work in nearly a decade, the album Taming the Tiger. She promoted the album with a return to regular concert appearances.
When the 2000s started, she had two more albums to complete. And Mitchell says she recorded them only to fulfill contractual obligations. Yet, she tried to make use of her new vocal range. Fun fact: in 2002, she expressed her dislike of the record industry’s dominance and her desire to release music over the Internet. She was ahead of her time.
In 2010, she stated her plans to leave the music industry and focus on her illness. She got diagnosed with Morgellons syndrome. After that, Joni wanted to work toward giving more credibility to the illness. In 2015, she suffered a brain aneurysm rupture, putting her in a coma for a couple of weeks. Following the incident, Joni made her first public appearance in August 2016.
Her legacy remains open, non-standard tuning on the guitar. She wrote songs in more than 50 tunings, playing her Joni’s weird chords. Mitchell made alternative tunings a mainstream thing. Yet, she wrote most of her songs on the piano.
Her approach to music helped pave the way for female listeners. She made it in an era dominated by the stereotypical male rock star. We can notice her influence on artists like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Harry Styles, Gabrielle Aplin, Ellie Goulding, and many more.
Awards and Achievements
Her home country of Canada gave her Governor General’s Performing Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. But that is not the only award she won during her career. She is one of three Canadian singers appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor. In 1981, she got inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
In 1995, she received Billboard’s Century Award. In 2015, Rolling Stone Magazine put her at Number 9 on the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.
In total, she won 9 Grammy Awards, including best folk performance, best pop album, album of the year, and even lifetime achievement.
So, how much is Joni Mitchell’s fortune? The legendary singer and songwriter released several albums throughout her career.
As of December 2020, Joni Mitchell’s wealth is more than $100 million. Some of her most famous albums include Clouds, Blue, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Ladies of the Canyon, Mingus, Wild Things Run Fast, Both Sides Now, and Shine.
In the US alone, she sold more than 7 million copies. And in the UK, she has certified sales more than 1.3 million copies.
Her top 10 songs include Raised on Robbery, You Turn on Me, I’m Radio, River, Help Me, Big Yellow Taxi, Both Sides, Now, Free Man in Paris, and more.