50 years of Tenco: Leonard Cohen

50 Years of Tenco: Joni Mitchell

2024 marks the fiftieth anniversary of Club Tenco, the largest Italian initiative dedicated to singer-songwriter music, of which Rockol is an official partner. In the run-up to this year’s edition, we celebrate its history in ten episodes, drawing from its historic archive.

The 1988 edition was the fourteenth edition of the Tenco Prize, born from an idea by Amilcare Rambaldi. That year the Tenco Prize was awarded to Joni Mitchell, as can be explored in depth in the original 1988 issue of “Il Cantautore”, the annual monograph edited and published by the Tenco Club.

Roberta Joan Anderson – who took her stage name from her first husband, the folk singer Chuck Mitchell – was born in Fort McLeod, Canada, in November 1943. After a childhood spent struggling with polio (which also struck another great contemporary Canadian, Neil Young, at a young age), her first self-titled album, later renamed SONG TO A SEAGULL, was released in 1968 and was produced by David Crosby. Other important works followed, which consolidated her at the top of the folk circuit thanks to songs such as “Both sides, now” (made famous by Judy Collins), “The circle game” (also performed by Tom Rush), “Big yellow taxi” and “Woodstock”, a celebration of the eponymous festival in the summer of 1969 which became a hit in the version by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

After BLUE, a totally acoustic album and recognized cornerstone of a new style of “confessional” female songwriting that would influence entire generations of female authors, the first signs of change came with FOR THE ROSES and especially with COURT AND SPARK, a 1974 album that showed the desire to derail into more jazz and fusion territories alongside a sophisticated pop that brought her her greatest commercial success. The artist’s inclination was followed in a new, experimental musical itinerary that would last over a decade and would bring her along the way to meet people like Charles Mingus (who inspired a self-titled album in 1979), Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorius and Wayne Shorter. During this period she released numerous albums: THE HISSING OF THE SUMMER LAWNS, 1975; HEJIRA, 1976; DON JUAN’S RECKLESS DAUGHTER, 1977; MINGUS, 1979; WILD THINGS RUN FAST, 1982; DOG EAT DOG, 1985 and CHALK MARK IN A RAIN STORM, 1988, the year in which she was awarded the Tenco Prize.

Here is the complete biography of Joni Mitchell.

The 2024 Tenco Award will take place from October 17 to 19. Stay up to date by following the official website of the event.


Photo: Club Tenco (Roberto Coggiola)