Joni Mitchell

One of the most independent female recording artists in popular music, Joni Mitchell enjoyed a considerable following for her graceful folk songs of the late 1960s, including "Both Sides, Now," "Chelsea Morning" and "Big Yellow Taxi," the success of which allowed her to experiment with pop, rock, jazz and fusion over the course of a celebrated four-decade career. Emerging from the Canadian folk scene in 1968, Mitchell established herself as a powerful new talent with the purity of her voice as well as her jazz-influenced guitar tunings and poetic lyrics. In the 1970s, she flirted with pop stardom with "Help Me" before turning increasingly towards more eclectic material, including collaborations with jazz entities like Charles Mingus and Weather Report, as well as explorations of world music and improvisational material. Response was often mixed for these efforts, but Mitchell persevered, remaining true to her own muse rather than industry trends. In doing so, she became an inspiration for a generation of recording artists, both male and female, who sought to preserve the integrity of their own work in the marketplace. Mitchell briefly retired from the business in the new millennium, but returned with a new album in 2007, the same year The River, a tribute record by Herbie Hancock, took Album of the Year at the Grammys. The simultaneous comeback and Grammy win underscored Mitchell's standing in popular music as one of its most influential and creatively dynamic figures.