Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell performed on the live broadcast of the annual Grammy Awards ceremony for the first time in her decades-long career this year. The historic performance from the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles also featuring Brandi Carlile, Jacob Collier, Blake Mills, Allison Russell, Lucius and SistaStrings, was captured with a number of Sennheiser microphones, including Carlile and Mitchell’s own custom gold SKM 6000 handheld transmitters with Neumann KK 205 condenser capsules.

Mitchell has won ten Grammy Awards since taking home her first in 1970, for her second album, Clouds. The album includes ‘Both Sides, Now’, one of Mitchell’s best-known songs, which were performed for the broadcast.

Joni Mitchell and Brandi Carlile performing at the GrammysPrior to the broadcast she won her latest Grammy, for Best Folk Album, for Joni Mitchell at Newport, a live recording from the Newport Folk Festival in 2022, an event she first played in 1967. The 80-year-old Mitchell accepted the award with Carlile, who, as the album’s producer, also won a Grammy – her eleventh. During those earlier award ceremonies Carlile additionally won a Grammy in the Best Americana Performance category for Brandy Clark’s ‘Dear Insecurity,’ on which she is featured.

Working with the Grammy audio team, Sean Quackenbush, Carlile’s front-of-house engineer for the past eight years, put Sennheiser mics on most of the musicians for Mitchell’s performance, with everyone seated in a semi-circle and Collier at the grand piano. Carlile, who owns a pair of gold-plated SKM 6000s with KK 205 capsules and Digital 6000 receivers, gifted Mitchell an identical set last year for her eightieth birthday, reports Quackenbush, who brought all four mics and receivers to the Crypto.com Arena for the show following rehearsals at Mitchell’s house the day before.

For background vocals he chose Sennheiser MMD 935 dynamic capsules for Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, and Chauntee and Monique Ross of SistaStrings. ‘We put a pair of e 906s on Blake Mills’ amp for stereo,’ he says. ‘And we put a Neumann KM 184 condenser mic on Allison Russell’s clarinet, which sounded fantastic, and a KM 184 on the cello, which sounded beautiful.’

Except for Mills and his electric fretless guitar all the musicians played acoustic instruments, Quackenbush also notes that he wanted to make sure that the FOH mixer was able to get enough gain before feedback with everyone monitoring through floor wedges. ‘But from the moment Joni opened her mouth it was just brilliant. There’s so much power in her voice, it’s amazing. That microphone captures and projects as if you’re standing right next to her singing in her living room. There’s no coloration. It’s the purest sound that you can possibly get.’

Quackenbush won his first Grammy Award for his role as recording engineer on Joni Mitchell at Newport. The album captured Mitchell’s surprise first public performance since suffering a brain aneurysm in 2015, which temporarily took away her ability to walk or talk. ‘It’s Joni’s moment and Joni’s award, and I’m just fortunate enough to be a part of it,’ he says. ‘When I showed up at the Grammys 20-something years ago with Robert Randolph and the Family Band, who would have thought that years later I would win a Grammy?’

‘I’ve been using a Sennheiser microphone, either the SKM 5000 with the MD 5235 dynamic capsule or the SKM 6000 with the MD 9235 capsule, the past nine or ten years,’ Clair Global monitor engineer Justin Hoffmann reports. He worked with Travis Scott at this year’s Grammy Award telecast as his artist performed three songs – ‘My Eyes,’ ‘I Know ?’ and ‘Fe!n’ – from his latest chart-topping album, Utopia, which was nominated for a Best Rap Album award this year. Scott has been Grammy-nominated ten times and has won a Latin Grammy Award, Billboard Music Award, MTV Video Music Award and multiple BET Hip Hop Awards.

‘It’s the only microphone I put in people’s hands,’ Hoffmann says. ‘It doesn’t matter what the genre, what the volume level, we’re always trying to accomplish the best sound. That microphone is what makes my job easier, the artist’s job easier and the front-of-house engineer’s job easier. And it makes for a better time for the audience.’

Hoffmann likens a Travis Scott show to Korn, who were the biggest, baddest metal band on the road when he was growing up. ‘If you go to see a Travis show, you’ve never heard anything like it. Travis has become this generation’s biggest rap-metal star. And that microphone is at the forefront of it.’

Switching to the MD 9235 capsule was a game-changer because of its very tight polar pattern, Hoffmann explains. ‘That choice originally started from the front-of-house engineer demanding that microphone all the time, because a lot of our artists are out in front of the PA,’ he says. Plus, artists tend to hold the microphone a certain way these days. ‘They all want to cup the microphone. That doesn’t bother me a bit, because with that microphone it doesn’t change the tone at all. So if your artist grabs a microphone that way and you’re not using that microphone, you’re starting at a disadvantage.’

More: https://en-uk.sennheiser.com

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