Canadian singer/songwriters Joni Mitchell and Jean-Pierre Ferland were inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame last night (Jan. 28) at Toronto's John Bassett Theatre.
Revered Montreal-born Quebec legend Ferland was recognized in performances of his catalog by the province's francophone stars Isabelle Boulay, Laurence Jalbert and Mario Pelchat. As well, French star Patrick Bruel sent a videotaped address from Paris.
"Music has no law, music has no religion, music has no politics, and no solitude," Ferland told the audience of 400 in a bilingual speech that received a standing ovation. "Music is just a noise. A wonderful noise, and I'm proud to be a part of it."
Alberta-born, Saskatchewan-raised Mitchell was lauded by performances of her songs by American artists, singer/songwriter James Taylor, jazzman Herbie Hancock, singer Chaka Khan as well as Canadian opera soprano Measha Brueggergosman. Also, famed Canadian author Margaret Atwood spoke her praises.
Hancock, who collaborated with Mitchell on her 1979 album "Mingus" described her songwriting "a map to the human heart." He added that, "Joni had vision so far out on music's horizon that she would never stay in one place with one sound."
Before his performance of Mitchell's "Woodstock," Taylor recalled meeting her in Toronto at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 1970. "Joni, you've been a dear friend and a great well-spring of inspiration musically to me throughout these years," Taylor said directly to Mitchell sitting in the front row. "I love you."
In addition to Taylor playing "Woodstock," Khan and Hancock performed "Help Me" and Brueggergosman sang a towering version of "Both Sides Now" which closed the show. The other two Mitchell songs inducted were "Big Yellow Taxi" and "You Turn Me On, I'm A Radio."
Mitchell, who took the stage to a standing ovation, recalled meeting her first songwriter when she was 18. "I was working in a coffee house in Saskatoon and I'd sung songs and I'd danced to songs but I'd never met a man who had wrote a song, and about three years, I guess, it took until I wrote my first song and, well, as you know, I wrote a lot of them, a lot of them are quite unorthodox."
Mitchell added, "You know, I'm told that I was really born with a scientific bent more than a creative bent. I really need to explore and discover. That has given me, to some what seems like courage, but really it's just in my stars. There's nothing I can do about it."
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame during the evening were two pioneering Canadian musical figures -- country legend Wilf Carter, and Broadway lyricist Raymond B. Egan.
Among the classic Canadian songs inducted at the ceremony were David Clayton-Thomas' "Spinning Wheel," Ralph Freed and Burton Lane's "How About You" and Sylvia Tyson's "You Were On My Mind."
The event also featured performances by Clayton-Thomas, Michael Buble, Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy and country singers George Canyon, Corb Lund, and Oh Susanna.
Canadian broadcaster CBC-TV will broadcast a one-hour special on the event on March 5.