Joni Mitchell had one of the best weekends of all the attendees of the Grammy Awards, from being honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year to taking home a very special trophy. She even thrilled audiences by singing onstage for the first time in years.
MusiCares, established by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, offers aid and relief for musicians in times of crisis and annually honors one of their own for philanthropic efforts in a gala event ahead of the Grammy Awards. Mitchell was honored with an all-star tribute curated by country singer Brandi Carlile and jazz musician Jon Batiste (who'd take home the year's Album of the Year trophy). Among the performers were Herbie Hancock, Sara Bareilles, John Legend, St. Vincent, Beck, Cyndi Lauper and old friends Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.
Mitchell gave a speech at the close of the evening praising those who came out to honor her. "Everybody was splendid, it just kept getting better and better and better," she said. "I can retire now and just let other people do it." But during the final number, a group rendition of signature hit "Big Yellow Taxi," audiences got the biggest surprise of the night: Mitchell, who had to re-learn how to walk and speak after suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015, joined in on the last line of the song - her first notes in concerts in many years. (Mitchell stopped touring in 2000, performing only three short sets - one for a charity event in 2002 and two festival performances in Canada in 2013 - since then.)
And the honors didn't stop: at the Grammy Awards the next day, Mitchell accepted a trophy for Best Historical Album, for the box set Joni Mitchell Archives Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967). Released in 2020, it's the first in an ongoing series of archival releases devoted to her incredible career. Mitchell also appeared on the televised portion of the ceremony, joining Bonnie Raitt to introduce a performance by Carlile.
Finally, one of Mitchell's most exciting moments might have occurred on the red carpet at Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena before the MusiCares ceremony began. Speaking to the Associated Press about her whirlwind weekend, she gushed about...the bar staff at her accomodations! "I had the best margarita that I've ever had at our hotel," she said.