Karine Jean-Pierre
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Joni Mitchell Wows in Surprise Set With Brandi Carlile at Newport

Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile

Iconic singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell wowed the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival Sunday night by performing a surprise set with out musician Brandi Carlile and others.

The 13-song set was Mitchell’s “first full-length live set in more than 20 years,” The Hollywood Reporter notes. It was also her first appearance at the fabled Rhode Island festival in 53 years.

Mitchell, now 78, has kept a low profile since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015. But she has been holding “Joni Jams” with other musicians in her home, and the stage at Newport was arranged in the style of Mitchell’s living room. Besides singing, Mitchell played guitar during the set; she has had to relearn the instrument since her aneurysm.

Mitchell appeared in the “Brandi Carlile & Friends” set, joined by Marcus Mumford, Wynonna, Blake Mills, Lucius, Taylor Goldsmith, and others in addition to Carlile, who had come up with the idea of doing a “Joni Jams” at Newport.

“No one brings folk singers together like the humility of trying out a new song in front of Joni fucking Mitchell,” the lesbian singer-songwriter said in introducing the set, according to the Reporter.

Mitchell and Carlile performed songs together including “Carey,” “A Case of You,” and “Both Sides Now”; during the latter, Wynonna, who recently lost her mother, Naomi Judd, could be seen tearing up in the background. Taylor Goldsmith collaborated with Mitchell on “Come in From the Cold,” and the whole group came together to close the set with one of Mitchell’s best-loved songs, “The Circle Game.”

After the performance, Mitchell told CBS Mornings’ Anthony Mason that she had no trepidation beforehand. “I’ve never been nervous about being in front of an audience,” she said. “But I want it to be good. And I wasn’t sure I could be. But I didn’t sound too bad tonight!”

Watch some of the songs and the interview below.


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