Joni Mitchell receives honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music

“I wish my parents were alive. My mother in particular would be really proud of this because she wanted me to go to college"

Joni Mitchell received an honorary doctorate degree from Berklee College of Music yesterday (August 23).

The folk legend was presented with the honour at a private event in Santa Monica hosted by Linda and Russell Brown of MaddocksBrown Foundation (via Pitchfork).

During her acceptance speech, Mitchell said: “Well, luckily I’m too old to get a swelled head! It’s a beautiful event. Words can’t describe it. I’ve got my good friends here with me.”


She continued: “I wish my parents were alive. My mother in particular would be really proud of this because she wanted me to go to college. I went to art school and I quit after a year. She thinks of me as a quitter. So to see this achievement would be really impressive to her. I wish I could share it with her.”

Berklee President Erica Muhl referred to Mitchell as “a force for change in the industry, blazing the trail for women in music with an unwavering commitment to achieving the status rightfully due her as one of the world’s great musical artists.”

While Terri Lyne Carrington, founder and artistic director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, said: “I am thrilled that we are finally able to honour Joni Mitchell. Her career and social principles stand for the values our institute pursues—imagination, freedom, equity, and identity. I can think of no one more deserving.”

The ceremony also included a number of musical tributes to Mitchell.


Back in July, Mitchell surprised the crowd at Newport Folk Festival when she joined Brandi Carlile on stage for two songs.

Fans were treated to a rare performance from the music legend when she appeared during Carlile’s set on Sunday (July 24). Together, the pair sang Mitchell’s classics ‘Both Sides Now’ and ‘A Case Of You’, released in 1966 and 1971, respectively. She also played the guitar solo from her 1974 song ‘Just Like This Train’.

It was the first time Mitchell had performed live since 2013, when she’d given two impromptu performances at events where she’d been invited to recite poetry. Prior to that, her last live shows were in 2002, two years after she retired from touring.