Watch Joni Mitchell perform publicly for first time since suffering brain aneurysm

A woman with a beret and sunglasses sings while seated onstage
Joni Mitchel performs at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival.
(Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Joni Mitchell performed Sunday at the Newport Folk Festival in what was the revered singer-songwriter’s first full public concert since she suffered a debilitating brain aneurysm in 2015.

Mitchell, 78, sang and played guitar with accompaniment from a group of friends and admirers led by Brandi Carlile, who’s covered Mitchell’s classic “Blue” album in concert and who helped spearhead April’s MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Mitchell.

The Newport performance, which wasn’t announced in advance, was billed as Brandi Carlile and Friends; other musicians taking part included Wynonna Judd, Marcus Mumford, Blake Mills, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. Mitchell’s set included songs such as “Carey,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Help Me,” “Both Sides Now” and “The Circle Game.” (Watch clips here, here and here.)


The concert marked Mitchell’s return to the folk festival where she first appeared in the late ’60s, just before the run of albums — “Blue,” “For the Roses” and “Court and Spark” among them — that would make her a superstar. It was also, according to reports, her first time performing at length anywhere since the early 2000s.

In a rare interview, Joni Mitchell talks with Cameron Crowe about the state of her singing voice and the making of “Blue,” 50 years after its release.

June 20, 2021

Mitchell made a brief appearance at April’s MusiCares event, and she’s said to sing at the private all-star jam sessions she’s held at her Bel-Air home as she’s recovered from her aneurysm, which made it difficult for her to move and to use her voice. Yet Sunday’s show, which also featured renditions of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Love Potion No. 9,” offered a more thorough overview of a career that’s influenced countless musicians over the past half-century.

In an interview with CBS News, Mitchell said she relearned to play guitar by watching videos of herself “to see where I put my fingers.” Asked how she found the will to do that, Mitchell said, “I don’t know, but the surgeon that did the brain surgery on me, he said I had will and grit.”