Fast-rising independent music company Reservoir Media has announced a deal with legendary singer-songwriter and eight-time Grammy winner Joni Mitchell that will see the company becoming the worldwide administrator of her publishing catalog. It should go without saying that Mitchell is one of the most important, influential and innovative songwriters of the past 60 years, with a towering catalog spanning several musical genres and such classics as “Woodstock,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Help Me,” “Free Man in Paris,” “A Case of You” and many others.
The extent of Mitchell’s influence can be seen in the superlative press and comments from her contemporaries around the 50 th anniversary of her classic “Blue” album last summer.
Born in Canada, Mitchell first emerged as a folk singer in the mid-1960s under her born name of Joni Anderson. She crossed paths with many contemporaries in the early years of her career, including fellow Canadian Neil Young, and was mentored by David Crosby, of the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, after he saw her perform at a nightclub in Florida in 1967. He introduced her to his influential circle of friends in California, where she soon relocated, and she signed with Warner’s Reprise Records and released her first album, “Song to a Seagull,” in 1968.
However, her genius began to become evident with albums like 1969’s “Clouds” and 1970’s “Ladies of the Canyon,” and many artists began covering her songs, particularly Judy Collins, who scored a hit with Mitchell’s “Circle Game.” “Blue” is generally considered the apex of her singer-songwriter era, an album that also saw her beginning to incorporate jazz influences into her music — something she did increasingly with each album that followed in the 1970s. She reached a commercial peak with “Court and Spark” in 1974, and with the following “Hissing of Summer Lawns” began to incorporate African influences into her music as well. Her jazz phase essentially peaked with 1979’s “Mingus,” created in collaborator with the legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus, and then returned to a more conventional sound in the following years. Mitchell, who suffered a stroke in 2015, effectively retired after the release of “Shine” in 2007, although she has teamed with Rhino Records for a series of archival boxed sets spanning her early career, the second of which is due next month and covers the years 1968-71.
Mitchell has released a total of 19 studio albums, is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was awarded the 2002 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. She is set to receive a 2021 Kennedy Center Honor, recognizing her contributions to American culture, later this year. Additionally, she has been named MusiCares’ ‘Person of the Year’ for 2022, an honor dedicated to celebrating artistic achievements in the music industry and dedication to philanthropy.
“I’m looking forward to working with Reservoir,” says Mitchell. “I am so proud to welcome Joni Mitchell to our Reservoir family,” adds Reservoir Founder & CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi. “Joni is a musical pioneer and a once-in-a-lifetime creator, and we look forward to safeguarding her catalog and championing her legacy.”
“It is a career-defining moment when you have the opportunity to work with an icon, whose music has moved and inspired you,” says Reservoir EVP, Global Creative Director Donna Caseine. “This means so much to me on a personal level and is an important milestone for all of us at Reservoir. We are truly honored to support Joni’s music and amplify her rich pioneering contributions to the arts with audiences old and new.”