David Friend – The Canadian Press
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, closing out a weekend that toasted her timeless contributions to music.
The “Both Sides Now” performer was one of several Canadians announced as winners as part of music’s biggest night, but unlike most of them, she was present in Las Vegas to accept her honour.
Other winners, including the Weeknd and Alex Cuba, were absent from the event while top Canadian nominee Justin Bieber lost in all eight categories that named him.
That left Mitchell to shine on a whirlwind Grammys weekend that also saw her celebrated by the Recording Academy on Friday as this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year.
Mitchell took to the stage during a pre-broadcast ceremony draped in white and walking slowly with a cane. She bopped along to the live band as she made her way to claim best historical album for “Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967),” a remastered boxed set of her early work.
“I didn’t expect this,” Mitchell said to the audience, many of whom stood up to cheer when her name was called.
Mitchell thanked those involved with the project, including filmmaker Cameron Crowe who wrote the liner notes. She shares the honour with fellow compilation producer Patrick Milligan and mastering engineer Bernie Grundman.
Mitchell later appeared on the Grammys broadcast beside Bonnie Raitt to introduce a performance by fellow Grammy winner Brandi Carlile.
Another big Canadian winner was sound engineer Charles Moniz who now has seven Grammys on his mantle after picking up his latest for Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open,” the smooth throwback hit that snagged record of the year. Moniz, who grew up in Burlington, Ont., is a longtime collaborator with Bruno Mars, who is one-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 chart-topper “Peaches.” A significant portion of their song was muted by CBS censors, likely due to coarse language.
Back in Canada, Cuba learned he won best Latin pop album for “Mendó” while driving his family through a snowstorm in northern British Columbia.
The Afro-Cuban singer, born Alexis Puentes, was returning home with his wife and youngest son after two nights performing with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, a previously announced engagement that collided with Grammys night.
Shortly after heavy snow began falling, Puentes said he received a phone call from his New York publicist who shared news of his first Grammy win.
“What a surreal moment, man,” he said of the blustery turn of events.
“Maybe because we are coming out of the pandemic, this has an amplified meaning.”
“Mendó,” which he said loosely translates to the “substance of the soul,” was recorded in his living room in Smithers, B.C., during the COVID-19 pandemic with the assistance of engineer John (Beetle) Bailey.
“Music has given me hope and positivity,” Puentes said, “so I wanted to maintain that throughout the album. There’s no sad songs.”
The Weeknd also emerged a winner for his work with Kanye West only a year after he pledged to boycott the Grammys over their nominations process when his album “After Hours” was shut out.
The Toronto singer, born Abel Tesfaye, picked up the prize for West’s song “Hurricane,” also featuring Lil Baby, in the best melodic rap performance category.
And Yannick Nézet-Séguin won the best orchestral performance Grammy as conductor of “Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3.” The Montrealer had been nominated in three classical categories.
Dream Theater, whose members include lead singer and songwriter James LaBrie of Penetanguishene, Ont., won best rock performance for “The Alien.”
feature image via Chris Pizzello/ The Canadian Press/AP