Buffy Sainte-Marie (b. February 20, 1941) is a highly acclaimed and influential singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and composer who became famous during the mid 1960s and early 1970s, both as a performer and as a songwriter for other bands and artists. Known for her robust and impassioned vibrato vocals, she began primarily as a folk singer and has since also made her mark in such diverse genres as country, rock, electronic, and Canadian indigenous music. Over her long and multifaceted career, Sainte-Marie has also been a visual artist, educator, philanthropist, pacifist, and activist whose work has focused on Native American-related issues.
She was born in Saskatchewan, Canada on the Piapot Plains Cree First Nation Reserve in the Qu'Appelle Valley and later adopted by Albert and Winifred Sainte-Marie. She grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with degrees in teaching and Oriental philosophy. By the early 1960s, she was touring throughout both North America and abroad and had signed with Vanguard. In 1964, she released her debut album of mostly self-penned songs titled "It's My Way!" which includes two tracks that have become folk standards: "Cod'ine" and the anti-war anthem, "Universal Soldier." This landmark and then-controversial album, which opens with the searing Native American lament, "Now That The Buffalo's Gone," was inducted years later in 2016 by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry.
Sainte-Marie made her debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1970 with her cover of the Joni Mitchell-penned "The Circle Game." Later that year, she had a minor hit with her romantic classic, "Until It's Time For You To Go," a song from her 1965 album, "Many A Mile." She had several other hits through 1974 that included "I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again" (1971), "He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo" (1972), and the uplifting, horn-infused rocker, "Mister Can't You See" (1972), which became a Top 40 hit.
Sainte-Marie is a prolific songwriter who has penned many songs as made famous by other artists. Her era-defining yet timeless "Universal Soldier" became a hit in 1965 for both Glen Campbell and Donovan. Her extensively-covered "Until It's Time For You To Go" became a Top 40 hit in 1972 for Elvis Presley and also charted for Neil Diamond (1970) and New Birth (1973). She was also a hitmaker on the Country charts with "Take My Hand For Awhile" and "The Piney Wood Hills" as covered by George Hamilton IV (1968) and Bobby Bare (1967), respectively, which both made the Top 40. More recently, she had a spectacular success with "Up Where We Belong" which topped the charts for Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in 1982. This song, which was featured in the movie, "An Officer And A Gentleman," earned Sainte-Marie and co-writers Jack Nitzsche and Will Jennings the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Song.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was named an O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada) in 1997 for her services to Native Canadians. She was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1995 at the Juno Awards and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009. Her numerous other honors and accolades include a star on Canada's Walk of Fame (1999), plus numerous Juno Awards and honorary doctorates. Her 2015 album, "Power In The Blood," won the Polaris Music Prize and earned her the Americana Music Award. She continues to tour, perform, and record actively.
- For more information about Buffy Sainte-Marie's life and career, visit buffysainte-marie.com.
- Buffy Sainte-Marie discusses being blacklisted during the 1960s-1970s, her pioneering use of computers in her music, and other topics in an interview with Elio Iannacci on macleans.ca.
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- Better To Find Out For Yourself 1970
(B-side of "The Circle Game")
- The Circle Game 1970
- He's An Indian Cowboy In The Rodeo 1972
- I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again 1971
- Mister Can't You See 1972
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