Wordfest Presents Ann Powers

Wordfest Presents Ann Powers

Wordfest Presents Ann Powers

Jul 31 @ 7 PM - 8:15 PM MT $15 - $25
Memorial Park Library, 2nd Floor
1221 2 St SW
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Rock out (thoughtfully)! Wordfest is thrilled to present legendary music critic Ann Powers and her new book about an Alberta-born icon:  Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell. The conversation, hosted by Wordfest's Creative Ringleader Shelley Youngblut, includes an audience Q & A and book signing, fuelled by Shelf Life Books. Ticket holders can pre-order copies of Travelling and Powers' backlist here for pick-up at the event. 

We are grateful to HarperCollins Canada for making it possible to connect you with Ann Powers.

About Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell

A daring, intimate book about a daring, intimate artist, Traveling is a thrilling provocation from Ann Powers, one of the greatest cultural critics of our time. Merging biography, memoir and analysis, Powers paints a gorgeous map of the artist’s influence over a lifetime, puncturing myths and finding electric new connections, always in search of the deeper meaning.”  –Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker

Celebrated NPR music critic Ann Powers explores the life and career of Joni Mitchell in a lyrical style as fascinating and ethereal as the songs of the artist herself.

“What you are about to read is not a standard account of the life and work of Joni Mitchell. Instead, it’s a tale of long journeying through a life that changed popular music: of a homesick wanderer forging ahead on routes of her own invention, and of me on her trail, heading toward the ringing of her voice.” From the introduction

For decades, Joni Mitchell’s life and music have enraptured listeners. One of the most celebrated artists of her generation, Mitchell has inspired countless musicians—from peers like James Taylor, to inheritors like Prince and Brandi Carlile – and authors, who have dissected her music and her life in their writing. At the same time, Mitchell has always been a force beckoning us still closer, as – with the other arm – she pushes us away. Given this, music critic Ann Powers wondered if there was another way to draw insights from the life of this singular musician who never stops moving, never stops experimenting.

In Traveling, Powers seeks to understand Mitchell through her myriad journeys. Through extensive interviews with Mitchell's peers and deep archival research, she takes readers to rural Canada, mapping the singer’s childhood battle with polio. She charts the course of Mitchell’s musical evolution, ranging from early folk to jazz fusion to experimentation with pop synthetics. She follows the winding road of Mitchell’s collaborations with other greats, and the loves that emerged along the way, all the way through to the remarkable return of Mitchell to music-making after the 2015 aneurysm that nearly took her life.

Along this journey, Powers’ wide-ranging musings on the artist’s life and career reconsider the biographer’s role and the way it twines against the reality of a fan. In doing so, Traveling illustrates the shifting nature of biography, and the ultimate contradiction of celebrity: that an icon cannot truly, completely be known to a fan.

Kaleidoscopic in scope, and intimate in its detail, Traveling is a fresh and fascinating addition to the Joni Mitchell canon, written by a biographer in full command of her gifts who asks as much of herself as of her subject. 

About Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR’s music critic and correspondent. In the decade she has worked with NPR, she has written extensively on music and culture, appeared regularly on the All Songs Considered podcast, and news shows including All Things Considered and Morning Edition.

One of America’s most notable music critics, Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. She began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly. Powers books include a memoir, Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America; Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music; and Piece by Piece, co-written with Tori Amos. She lives in Nashville. Follow her on Instagram/Threads @annkpowers.

About Host Shelley Youngblut

Shelley Youngblut is the CEO & Creative Ringleader of Wordfest. She was the recipient of the 2020 Calgary Award for Community Achievement in the Arts and the 2018 Rozsa Award for Arts Leadership. She also won the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Western Magazine Awards. Youngblut was the founding editor of Calgary’s award-winning Swerve magazine and has created magazines for ESPN, Seventeen, CosmopolitanNickelodeonWestern Living, and The Globe and Mail. She was also a former pop-culture correspondent for ABC World News Now and Canada AM. Follow her on Facebook @ShelleyYoungblut and Instagram/Threads @youngblutshelley.

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