Mitchell takes 'Shine' to Starbucks label

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NEW YORK -- Joni Mitchell, who had been largely retired from the music business since 2002, has joined Paul McCartney on the roster of Starbucks Entertainment's Hear Music label. Mitchell's new album, "Shine," will be released Sept. 25 through the coffee retailer's stores as well as traditional outlets.

Mitchell angrily threatened to quit recording after the release of 2002's "Travelogue," but her work with Starbucks on a 2005 "Artists Choice" compilation helped encourage her to not throw in the towel just yet.

"Joni acknowledged back in 2005 that not only was she very, very impressed with our commitment to music and our customers' love of music, but that (the compilation) really helped to re-energize her passion for music," Starbucks Entertainment president Ken Lombard said. "As we continue to have discussions with respect to this new CD, it is obvious to us that she's back, in a big way."

In fact, it was Mitchell who reached out to Starbucks when she was nearing completion on "Shine." "Frankly, for Joni fans, this is the Joni they've been waiting for," Lombard said. "This is true Joni -- it is almost the return of her as a storyteller."

"Shine" includes nine new songs plus a new version of Mitchell's evergreen, "Big Yellow Taxi." The album is part of a series of new work from the artist, including a ballet based on her music, "The Fiddle and the Drum," and a visual art exhibit that opens in the fall in New York.

Hear Music launched in June with the release of McCartney's "Memory Almost Full," which has sold 448,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"I think we did a lot of things right," Lombard said of the label's rollout. "We could not be more excited about the success of the record. As much as anything, not only is it important that we were excited, but Paul was very pleased with the commitment we displayed toward really generating excitement around the launch. As we move forward with Joni, you'll see that same level of commitment."

And, there are more signings to come. "We talked about three artists by the end of '07 and eight in '08," Lombard said. "Frankly, we're in a lot of discussions right now. We're excited about Joni today and hope to be able to announce new signings very soon."
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