Looking youthful and jovial in a black crepe dress, renowned songstress Joni Mitchell made a rare appearance Monday night to receive a Socan Award for bringing international recognition to Canada through her music.
"I don't show up for all of them. I think [Socan] is pertinent to the art," Mitchell, 59, said about her attendance during a Toronto reception before the ceremony.
Presented by the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, the awards recognize the Canadian songwriters whose work received the most domestic radio, film and TV airplay in 2001.
Standing next to her daughter, Kilauren Gibb, Mitchell dismissed reports that she was quitting the business.
"I'm not sour, I'm not bitter," she said laughing.
The Alberta-born singer, who is hailed as one of the most influential singer-songwriters of her generation, had said she was putting away her writing gear because she was disgusted by the music being produced as a result of the industry's marketing strategies.
"[Today's music] is good for aerobics but it isn't moving...we have new needs now. We need a counterforce," she said Monday, referring to the current political climate. "We can't all be hos and criminals.
"I threatened to quit because I was P.O.'ed and with good reason...but I don't think I can quit."
But before she can compose new material, she said she'll need to be inspired. "In order to write again something's got to shift in me," said Mitchell, who has an album of reworked songs out this week.
Country star Paul Brandt hosted Monday night's gala ceremony at the Art Gallery of Ontario attended by members of the music industry. Musicians present included Jimmy Rankin, Steven Page and Murray McLauchlan.
In the pop category, singer Nelly Furtado's songs I'm Like a Bird and Turn Off the Light were honoured for achieving the greatest number of performances on domestic radio. She did not attend.
Alt-rockers Nickelback, country singer Carolyn Dawn Johnson, hip-hop artist Kardinal Offishall and Celtic band Leahy also won awards.
Myles Goodwyn, frontman of rock band April Wine, received the National Achievement Award. Formed in Halifax in 1969, April Wine had a successful career putting out 13 albums, which included the hit songs Fast Train, You Could Have Been a Lady and Just Between You and Me.
James Leroy, Terry Jacks and Ken Tobias were each awarded with Socan Classics Awards for songs that reached the 100,000 airplay mark on Canadian radio in 2001.
A second Socan ceremony was to be held last night in Montreal to recognize Quebec musicians.
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