Photo Credit: Nina Westervelt

Last month, the 2024 Gershwin Prize ceremony was recorded at the DAR Revolution Hall in Washington, D.C., and as a follow-up to the main event, the recording aired on PBS for the first time on Monday, April 8. The televised celebration honored Elton John and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. Amongst the artists paying tribute with a cover for the pair’s acclaimed archive, was Joni Mitchell. 

Providing the introduction for the live music moment was Brandi Carlile, who integrated a line into her dialogue that touched on the significance of the cover song for Mitchell. Carlile continued, explaining Mitchell’s request to change some of the lyrics in order to generate more personal meaning during the performance, calling the move, “Honestly, the most Joni Mitchell thing, I think I’ve ever heard of.” 

Mitchell was not alone during the performance, besides a strong backing band, she was joined by Carlile and Annie Lennox to take on Elton John’s hit 1983 Too Low for Zero originator, “I’m Still Standing.” Perhaps the most delightful feature of the performance was Mitchell in the spotlight, centered and supported by her fellow artists, who harmonized and added to the number when the moment presented itself–evoking laughter from folk icon, who smiled as she sang. 

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is an award bestowed to a performer or composer for their lifetime contributions to the popular music canon. Prior to Elton John and Taupin, recipients have included Joni Mitchell (2023), Lionel Richie (2022), Garth Brooks (2020), and many others. 

Watch Mitchell’s Gershwin Prize ceremony performance below.