WOMAN OF HEART & MIND
A Celebration of the Music of Joni Mitchell
performed by Hannah Reimann
Hannah Reimann's show, "Woman of Heart & Mind," is both an homage to Joni Mitchell, one of
the most gifted lights on the contemporary music scene for the last four decades, and a
profoundly personal celebration of the healing power of inspiring music.
Ms. Reimann comes to Joni Mitchell's repertory from a distinguished classical piano career,
attracted to this seminal singer and composer by the spirit and sensuality of Ms. Mitchell's unique
tunes, from the soulful "Blue," "River" and "Woodstock," to her upbeat standards like "Case of
You," "Both Sides Now" and "California."
"Woman of Heart and Mind" is a marvelous, life-affirming journey, propelled by wonderful lyrics
and music, performed by a masterful musician with a magical voice that leaves us with profound
thanks for the grace and wonder of Joni Mitchell's artistry.
SAMPLE PROGRAM – SONG LIST with album titles
SONG TO A SEAGULL: I Had a King, Cactus Tree, Song to a Seagull
CLOUDS: Both Sides Now, That Song About the Midway, The Fiddle and the Drum
LADIES OF THE CANYON: Big Yellow Taxi, Conversation, The Circle Game, Woodstock, For Free, Rainy Night House
BLUE: All I Want, My Old Man, Little Green, Carey, Blue, California, This Flight Tonight, River, A Case of You, The Last Time I saw Richard FOR THE ROSES: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire, Blonde in the Bleachers, For the Roses, Woman of Heart and Mind, Let the Wind Carry Me, You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio
COURT AND SPARK: Court and Spark. Help Me, Free Man in Paris, People's Parties, Raised on, Robbery, Down to You, Same Situation, Twisted
MILES OF AISLES: You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio, Big Yellow Taxi, Rainy Night House, Woodstock, Both Sides Now
Hannah’s reflections in 2018 about this project:
“In 2012, I decided I wanted to study and perform Joni Mitchell’s album, Blue, in its entirety. I called my colleague, guitarist and bassist, Michele Temple, and asked her to begin work with me so that we could share the songs with audiences for a show at New York’s Bitter End where Joni played the same material in the 1960’s and ‘70’s. There’s a painting of her face on the wall there alongside one of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and others.
I had been going through my own blue period, caring for my father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-related dementia around 2010 and who showed symptoms for several years before that. My life seemed to be slipping away from me as the caregiving load increased, my health fell and my social life disintegrated. I had to postpone concerts, auditions and other projects as I watched my dad change into a person I had never known before. As his only local relative, I had to rise to every emergency that his memory loss and other symptoms presented. It was exhausting. I knew music would to come to my rescue as it had during other rough times.
I wrote poetry in the wee hours, 2 or 3 AM, when I couldn’t sleep, worrying about Dad, trying to figure out what to do to help him and myself. I played and sang for him every week and asked him to sing. I wanted a body of musical work that I could pour my emotions into, but I never had time during the day to write and couldn’t play my piano in the middle of the night to compose. Blue attracted me and promised an outlet to deal with my pain.
“Before there was Prozac, there was you,” Joni’s fans told her when they saw her spontaneously in a café in Los Angeles. After I heard that while doing some casual research, I realized that her songs are and have been a poultice to generations of fans, that I was not alone in my wish to heal via her songs.
Blue was a challenge for us to bring to performance level. I wanted to give our audiences the experience of the record as closely as we could so we learned them in their original keys and arrangements. Michele transcribed James Taylor’s guitar parts in standard tuning and learned Joni’s guitar parts in their original altered tunings; in some cases she played combinations of the guitar and dulcimer parts. After the first show I realized I would have to teach myself how to play the dulcimer to capture her process and execution accurately. It took more rehearsals that we planned do our first shows and seemed like a waste to stop playing the songs after all that work, and we began to explore songs from other albums of her early catalogue. We listened to and learned songs from Song to a Seagull, Ladies of the Canyon, Clouds, For The Roses, Court and Spark and Miles of Aisles. We began to play with larger groups of musicians I knew or met especially for this project.
We strove to give audiences an authentic Joni Mitchell experience of her early work. Players would thank me after shows because they felt they learned and stretched themselves exploring this rich repertoire -- it requires a lot more than an average Pop song. I know this from teaching dozens of singers of all ages and reading accompaniments. It’s one thing to get all the notes, then another to feel the phrasing, dynamics, understand the stories – much more akin to working on pieces by the great Classical and Jazz composers in spirit and complexity and studying monologues from theater. I was very grateful that I had dramatic training and had worked in plays and movies as an actor…there are characters and situations in these songs that require development and empathy.
All of this music was familiar to me from I was age 13 - 15. Like many other singer-songwriters, I had transcribed “River,” singing it for my audiences in the early 2000’s upon their request. Some of them compared me to Joni Mitchell which I never took seriously; her music is very different than mine. In 2011 I added a number of her songs to daily sets I played in St. Barth’s when I did a three-week job at a resort there, alone at the piano. However, those experiences were nothing like the intense rehearsing Michele and I have done, attempting to sound like one person as she accompanies me and my time alone at the piano and dulcimer since August 2012.
I had not anticipated that we would work on and perform these songs for six years. I’m grateful to Joni Mitchell for writing them, recording and performing them in her unique and artistic way, leaving a legacy for people like me to learn and grow from. I feel humbled when audiences thank me for sharing her songs, request others that they love and tell that listening to them helps them feel better and inspired.
The healing powers of music resound in Ms. Mitchell’s music; player and listener alike benefit, a gift that I will never take for granted.”