Joni Mitchell took a victory lap at the Grammy Awards on Sunday as the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter picked up her ninth career trophy at the event, capping a weekend that toasted her timeless contributions to the music.
The “Both Sides Now” singer was one of many Canadians announced as the winners of music’s biggest night, but unlike most, she was in Las Vegas to accept her honor.
Other winners including The Weeknd and Alex Cuba were absent from the event while top Canadian contender Justin Bieber lost in all eight categories that nominated him.
It left Mitchell to shine in a Grammys whirlwind weekend that also celebrated her on Friday by the Recording Academy as this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year.
Mitchell took the stage in a pre-broadcast ceremony draped in white and walking slowly with a cane. She joined the live band as she headed for Best Historical Album for “Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967),” a remastered box set of her early work.
“I didn’t expect this,” Mitchell told the audience, many of whom stood to applaud when his name was called.
Mitchell thanked those involved with the project, including filmmaker Cameron Crowe who wrote the liner notes. She shares the honor with fellow compilation producer Patrick Milligan and mastering engineer Bernie Grundman.
Mitchell later appeared on the Grammys show alongside Bonnie Raitt to feature a performance by Grammy-winning Brandi Carlile.
Another big Canadian winner was recording engineer Charles Moniz who now has seven Grammys under his belt after snagging his last for Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open,” the smooth return of that record of the year. Moniz, who grew up in Burlington, Ontario, is a longtime collaborator with Bruno Mars, who is half of Silk Sonic with Anderson .Paak.
Among the performers, Bieber joined Toronto’s Daniel Caesar and Los Angeles R&B singer Giveon to perform their hit single “Peaches.” A significant portion of their song was muted by CBS censors, likely due to foul language.
Back in Canada, Cuba learned he had won Best Latin Pop Album for “Mendó” while leading his family through a snowstorm in northern British Columbia.
The Afro-Cuban singer, born Alexis Puentes, was heading home with his wife and youngest son after two nights with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, a previously announced engagement that collided with Grammys night.
Shortly after heavy snowfall began, Puentes said he received a phone call from his New York publicist telling him of his first Grammy win.
“What a surreal moment, man,” he said of the turn of events.
“Maybe because we’re coming out of the pandemic, it has an amplified meaning.”
“Mendó,” which he says loosely translates to “substance of the soul,” was recorded in his living room in Smithers, B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of the engineer John (Beetle) Bailey.
“Music gave me hope and positivity,” Puentes said, “so I wanted to keep that going throughout the album. There are no sad songs.
The Weeknd also emerged victorious for his work with Kanye West just a year after promising to boycott the Grammys during their nominations process when his ‘After Hours’ album was dropped.
The Toronto singer, born Abel Tesfaye, won for West’s song “Hurricane,” also featuring Lil Baby, in the best melodic rap performance category.
And Yannick Nézet-Séguin won the Grammy for best orchestral performance as conductor of “Prix: Symphonies nos 1 & 3”. The Montrealer had been nominated in three classic categories.
Dream Theater, whose members include singer and songwriter James LaBrie of Penetanguishene, Ont., won best rock performance for “The Alien.”
David Friend, The Canadian Press