She was born Roberta Joan Anderson in Fort McLeod, Alberta, Canada. She played a variety of instruments when she was young, but her primary interest was painting. In 1965, she was married for a short time to the folk singer Chuck Mitchell, which is where she got her last name.
Mitchell is a very honored artist: She is a member of the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame and the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame. Billboard gave her their Century Award in 1995, and in 2002, she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
She smoked cigarettes since the age of nine, when she took up the habit with other girls in her church choir.
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Mitchell had beef with Rolling Stone, which she claims was over a personal issue with a guy at the magazine. Rolling Stone named her "Old Lady of the Year" of 1971 and ran a diagram of the men whose hearts she supposedly broke.
She is confident in her abilities, and has referred to herself as "an arrogant artist." Mitchell says she detests false humility.
In 1965 she had a daughter, Kelly, with a boyfriend who left when she was three months pregnant. In an attempt to keep the baby, she married a musician named Chuck Mitchell, but not long after their nuptials, Joni gave up Kelly for adoption. Kelly was renamed Kilauren by her new parents, In 1997, Joni reunited with her daughter (now named Kilauren Gibb), but in 2001, they broke off contact.
Mitchell had a very distinctive guitar style and used a panoply of alternate tunings. This made it very difficult to replicate her sound or draw up accurate chord charts for her songs.