Joni Mitchell’s Love Affair With Billie Holiday

Joni Mitchell is making headlines this week after being hospitalized, the Inquisitr reports. Mitchell fell unconscious in her Los Angeles home on Tuesday and was rushed to hospital for what the CBC said was a “minor medical emergency.”

Mitchell is known to suffer from Morgellons disease, a skin condition so rare that it has yet to be qualified as an actual medical condition.

As CBC reports, famous fans like Kevin Bacon and Emma Watson are among those sending their condolences to Joni Mitchell.

The celebrated singer/songwriter, whose style incorporates elements of folk and jazz, was born Roberta Anderson in Fort Macleod, Alberta. She moved to the U.S. in her 20s to immerse herself in California’s burgeoning folk scene.

One of Joni Mitchell’s main musical influences, Billie Holiday, is also making headlines this week, ahead of her would-be 100th birthday on April 7.

Billie Holiday has remained Mitchell’s favorite singer, Malka Marom writes in Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words. Mitchell says she had felt a “kinship” with the fabled jazz icon since first hearing her as a child.

Describing the influence Billie Holiday had on Joni Mitchell as a singer, Mark Bego quoted Mitchell in his book Joni Mitchell, “Billie Holiday makes you hear the content and intent of every word she sings–even at the expense of her pitch or tone. Billie is the one that touches me the deepest.”

The “emotional vulnerability” that permeates Lady Day’s music is very much present in Joni Mitchell’s “soprano trill,” jazz pianist Herbie Hancock wrote in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers” issue.

“Joni Mitchell heard Billie Holiday sing ‘Solitude’ when she was about nine years old — and she hasn’t been the same since.”

Joni Mitchell told the website NPR that by listening to Billie Holiday and Edith Piaf, she learned to endow a lyric with meaning.

“Those women never forgot what they were singing about, so that the note almost played second position to the text,” she said. “I think I took this from Billie.”

Like Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell’s voice has garnered criticism in recent years. A heavy smoker, Mitchell’s former 3.5-octave range has been drastically reduced to a shadow of its former self, the singer told the Independent.

Like that of her idol, Joni Mitchell’s range – limited or not – has little influence on her capacity to express emotion.

“I’m on the brink of being a great singer,” Mitchell said of her newly diminished range. “I’ve lost my high end but you don’t need it. Billie Holiday had seven notes. And what she did with it.”

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