It has been announced that the legendary folk artist Joni Mitchell will receive the Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th Annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards (NAMM TEC Awards).
The Awards are being held Saturday, January 18, 2020, in Anaheim, California as part of the NAMM show.
The award is given on behalf of the Les Paul Foundation to honour individuals that have set the highest standards of excellence in the creative application of artistry, in the spirit of the famed audio pioneer, inventor, and musician, Les Paul.
“We are excited that Joni will be the recipient of the prestigious Les Paul Innovation Award,” said Michael Braunstein, executive director of The Les Paul Foundation. “Like Les, she has been a trailblazer and a true renaissance woman – a songwriter, musician, producer, and influencer who made her mark with very influential songs in the ’60s. She has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a female singer-songwriter over the course of her four-decade career, and like Les Paul, she’s never been scared to take creative risks. We are thrilled that Joni Mitchell will join the list of extraordinary recipients that represent the spirit of the legendary Les Paul.”
“Thank you for this honour,” said Mitchell. “I’m grateful for being appreciated.”
You can purchase tickets for the Awards on-site or in advance at tecawards.org for $65 (General Admission) or $195 (VIP). The show begins with a VIP-only reception at 6pm, followed by the awards ceremony at 7pm, held in the Hilton Anaheim Hotel’s Pacific Ballroom. Portlandia co-creator, Saturday Night Live alumnus and drummer, Fred Armisen will host the event.
About Joni Mitchell
An only child, Roberta Joan Anderson’s (Joni Mitchell’s birth name) artistic talents blossomed early as she began drawing as a young child. It wasn’t until high school in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that Mitchell began performing music. She bought a ukulele and began playing in the local club, The Louis Riel, in 1962.
Heading to art school in Calgary after graduation, Mitchell auditioned at a coffeehouse called The Depression and immediately landed a regular gig there. Weighing two viable career options – art or music – she decided to focus on the latter. In 1964, she moved to Toronto and immersed herself in the Yorkville folk scene, performing in coffeehouses along with other fellow unknowns Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot.
Moving stateside in 1965, Mitchell worked the coffeehouse circuit for the next three years, playing as many as 20 sets a week. David Crosby caught her performance in a Florida club in 1967, was ‘stunned’ by her talent, and invited her to Los Angeles. Soon thereafter she signed with Reprise Records. Her first record, Song to a Seagull, was released in 1968.
Joni Mitchell went on to serve as producer for most of her subsequent albums. She produced and recorded Blue (1971), a unique collection of songs, performed with an emotional honesty that resonated with a wide audience. Blue is considered by many critics to be one of the best LPs of pop music ever created.
Joni’s most commercially successful LP, Court and Spark (1974) was created with the jazz-fusion group The LA Express. The Hissing of Summer Lawns (1975) was also accompanied by a variety of jazz musicians. Her album Hejira (1976) shed much of the instrumentation creating a minimalist recording with an expansive ambience achieved with the help of her sound engineer, Henry Lewy. In 1978 one of jazz’s great geniuses, Charles Mingus approached Joni to propose a collaboration, resulting in Mingus (1979), released shortly after Mingus’s untimely death from ALS.
Dog Eat Dog (1985) featured Mitchell’s exploration of sociopolitical themes set to complex synthesizer arrangements. In the 1990s her acoustic guitar playing came back to the forefront and produced the Grammy-winning Turbulent Indigo (1994). She has also recorded an orchestral retrospective, Travelogue (2002), two live recordings, Miles of Aisles (1974])and Shadows and Light (1980), and an orchestrated collection of popular music standards, Both Sides Now (2000). Her last recording of new material was 2007’s Shine.
Three Junos, nine GRAMMYS (plus their Lifetime Achievement Award), the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Polar Music Prize are but a few of Mitchell’s awards and accolades. With this award, Mitchell will join the likes of Peter Frampton, Jackson Browne, Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Don Was, Slash, Todd Rundgren, Pete Townshend, Steve Vai and others, as a Les Paul Innovation Award honoree.