Where is Kilauren Gibb today? Joni Mitchell met her daughter in 1997

Bruno Cooke July 26, 2022
Where is Kilauren Gibb today? Joni Mitchell met her daughter in 1997
Photo by Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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Joni Mitchell’s surprise concert at Newport Folk Festival alongside Brandi Carlile has thrust the veteran singer back into the spotlight – what do we know about her relationship with her daughter, Kilauren Gibb (formerly Kelly Dale Anderson)?

Mitchell gave birth to her daughter in 1965. But, unable to provide for her, she gave her up for adoption. 

They finally met face to face in 1997, after more than 30 years, but what at first “seemed like a fairy tale” led to a “very tough year” for Joni Mitchell’s only daughter.

Where is Kilauren Gibb today, and what do we know about her relationship with her mother?

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Who is Kilauren Gibb, formerly Kelly Dale Anderson?

Born Kelly Dale Anderson in February 1965, Kilauren Gibb is the daughter of folk legend Joni Mitchell. 

The previous year, Mitchell had discovered she was pregnant with the child of her ex-boyfriend Brad MacMath. She was a 20-year-old art school student living in Calgary. Afraid to tell her parents, writes AP News, she fled to Toronto, where she gave birth to her daughter in a charity hospital.

Per Smooth Radio, she said Brad wanted nothing to do with the child. “[He] left me three months pregnant in an attic room with no money and winter coming on and only a fireplace for heat”, the outlet quotes her as saying. “The spindles of the banister were gap-toothed – fuel for last winter’s occupants.”

She gave birth to Kelly Dale towards the end of winter, but was unable to provide for her. School teachers David and Ida Gibbs became her adoptive parents, and renamed her Kilauren. 

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Where did she grow up, and when did she learn she was Joni Mitchell’s daughter?

Kilauren grew up attending private schools and dining in country clubs, according to a 2001 National Post article archived by the Joni Mitchell Library.

She lived in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills, and started modelling as a teenager. Modelling took her to Paris and New York; between times, she took courses at Harvard University and the University of Toronto. 

In 1992, she married Toronto-based talent agent Paul Kohler. They separated in 1995 after three years of marriage, and after the birth of their son.

In 1996, when Kilauren Gibb was 31 years old, Joni Mitchell made a public plea to find her daughter. Gibb called Mitchell’s manager and eventually established contact with her mother. They met for the first time in March 1997.

Photo by Erin Combs/Toronto Star via Getty Images

From ‘fairy tale’ to ‘a very tough year’

AP News reported in April 1998 that discovering Joni Mitchell is her birth mother became a “mixed blessing” for Kilauren Gibb. Nor was the experience easy for her adoptive parents.

“At first the experience seemed like a fairy tale for Gibb,” writes the outlet. “Overnight, she acquired an extended and loving family, and nagging questions about her origins were resolved.”

Establishing a relationship with her mother pulled her in multiple directions. It took her a long time before she could call Mitchell her “mother”, and at one point stress sent her to a hospital emergency ward.

Mitchell had never spoken publicly about the adoption, and was shocked when the story broke in the early 1990s. A former art school roommate of hers had sold the story to a tabloid, per Cheatsheet; Mitchell later said it “hurt like hell”. 

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Where is Kilauren Gibb now?

Kilauren Gibb’s son Marlon is in his late 20s – 28 or 29. She had a second child in June 1999 – her daughter is now in her early 20s.

Over time, Kilauren appears to have transitioned from a model to a painter. In 2010, she was among the featured artists at the inaugural Roots N’ Rails art and music festival in Brantford, Ontario.

Five years later, her work was exhibited at the Station Gallery in the same city; she paints Northern Canadian landscapes. 

In 2015, Kilauren celebrated her 50th birthday at her mother’s home in Bel Air. See below.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.