Getting a little blue with Joni Mitchell

Queenie Van De Zandt will be bringing her production Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell to Gold Coast audiences with a special performance at HOTA, Home of the Arts this November. The presentation will honour Joni Mitchell, the renaissance woman, painter and poet who created a soundtrack for the Woodstock generation.

While not being recognised among many of her contemporaries, Mitchell is an artist whose fans are as passionate and loyal as any other, with her seeming to find more success in the twilight of her career than her established years.

“I think she’s a bit of an unsung hero,” Queenie surmised. “She’s as good as Dylan and others of that generation but she never got the same sort of kudos as those guys. From what I’ve read people theorise that’s because she’s a woman and it was still in a male citric world in the 70s. She’s not a commercial star – she’s this person people find when they go looking. She has a bit of the underdog about her.”

Queenie is quick to point out that Blue: The Songs Of Joni Mitchell is far from a tribute show, but more so a celebration of the music and life of the person and artist.

“We don’t do it as a tribute show,” she stressed. “What we’ve done is reinterpreted her music in our way but we tell the story of Joni through her songs and voiceovers. I get to speak as her but I don’t look like her and I speak in my voice and comment on what is going on. We found that that was a much better way of connecting with the audience. I am a massive fan and I relate to her stories and life so we found that was the best combination on how to do it and how to present it.”

Queenie, alongside musical director, Max Lambert and a live band, will affectionately reinterpret Joni’s beautiful music, and intimately reveal the stories behind some of her most haunting songs, including ‘A Case of You’, ‘Both Sides Now’, and ‘Little Green’.

“Max and I have known each other since the 90s,” she explained. “We did the original Boy From Oz musical together. Max is also a former member of Icehouse – lots of people don’t know that – but he comes from a pop background and even though I have done a lot of music theatre we both love folk music and pop music. He is also a writer of musicals so I thought he would be a fantastic person to write with, especially because we were going to tell this show in more of a theatrical way.

“I’ve always loved Joni Mitchell and I’ve always wanted to do a show about her but for some reason, it was never the right time. I was having a baby and looking at maternity leave so I decided to do this as a project to keep my mind sane. I decided to dive into her music and her life and as it turned out it was a really amazing time to write it because the biggest thing that has influenced Joni Mitchell’s music has been the fact that she gave away her child when she was 19 – which was a great pain to her throughout her life – and it was an amazing thing to see that and see her music through that prism having just given birth myself and thinking what it would be to give away your child, especially when you didn’t want to.”

Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell is on in the Lakeside Room at Home of the Arts on Saturday 9 November 2019 at 2pm and 7.30 pm. For more information on visit hota.com.au.

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