Buffy Sainte-Marie is touring constantly, most recently with her critically acclaimed, award-winning 2015 album Power in the Blood. Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo.
The message of “It’s My Way!, about the road to self-identity and the conviction to be oneself, still resonates with the activist, educator, visual artist, and winner of countless awards (Oscar, Juno, and Golden Globe, among them).
Perhaps you know Sainte-Marie from her 1960s protest anthems (“Universal Soldier”), open-hearted love songs (“Until It’s Time for You to Go”), incendiary powwow rock (“Starwalker”), or the juggernaut pop hit “Up Where We Belong,” which Sainte-Marie co-wrote and Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes sang for the soundtrack to An Officer and a Gentleman.
One of her earliest classics, “Cod’ine,” a harrowing account of addiction well ahead of its time, was covered by everyone from Janis Joplin to Donovan to Courtney Love.
Or maybe you remember Sainte-Marie from her five years on the television show “Sesame Street” beginning in the mid-’70s.
Whatever the case, every song and every era has revealed new and distinctive shades of an artist revered for her pioneering and chameleon ways. There was no mold from which Buffy Sainte-Marie emerged; she created her own, ripened from experiences in both her head and her heart. She is an icon who keeps one foot firmly planted on both sides of the North American border, in the unsurrendered territories that comprise Canada and the USA.
“To me, a good song stays relevant even though other good ones come along,” she says. “I feel like all my songs are coming from the 3-year-old I’ll always be, and the ones I keep loving are fresh to me every time I perform them.”
“She pays a lot of attention to her lyrics,” Producer Chris Birkett says, “and when Buffy says something, she actually means something.”
That unwavering resilience has rippled across genres and generations, even as Sainte-Marie’s profile in the United States diminished significantly when she was blacklisted in the ’70s. Recognizing the power of her songwriting and activism, the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations considered her an “artist to be suppressed,” and Sainte-Marie all but disappeared from the US music industry.
“I love words, I love thinking, and I recognize and value the core of a universal idea simplified into a three-minute song,” she says. “What appealed to me in folk music were the songs that have lasted for generations, but I wasn’t trying to be one of those guys. I wanted to give people something original.”
(with info from http://www.paquinartistsagency.com/roster/artist/buffy-sainte-marie and http://buffysainte-marie.com/)