Buffy Sainte-Marie Biography

20 February 1941, Piapot Reserve, Saskatchewan, Canada. Adopted and raised in Maine and Massachusetts, Sainte-Marie received a PhD in Fine Art from the University of Massachusetts, but eschewed a teaching career in favour of folk singing. She was signed to Vanguard Records in 1964, following her successful performances at Gerde’s Folk City. Her debut It’s My Way! introduced a remarkable compositional and performing talent. Sainte-Marie’s impassioned plea for Indian rights, ‘Now That The Buffalo’s Gone’, reflected her native-American parentage and was one of several stand out tracks, along with ‘Cod’ine’ and ‘The Universal Soldier’. The latter was recorded, successfully, by Donovan, which helped to introduce her to a wider audience. Her second selection included ‘Until It’s Time For You To Go’, a haunting love song that was later recorded by Elvis Presley. However, Sainte-Marie was also a capable interpreter of other writers’ material, as her versions of songs by Bukka White, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen showed. Her versatility was also apparent on a superb C&W collection, I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again, and on Illuminations, which featured an electronic score on several tracks. A tireless campaigner for American Indian rights, Sainte-Marie secured an international hit in 1971 with the theme song to the movie Soldier Blue, but subsequent releases failed to capitalize on this success. Temporarily bereft of direction, Sainte-Marie returned to the Indian theme with Sweet America, but with the collapse of the ABC Records label, she retired to raise her family and concentrate on her work for children’s foundations, which included regular appearances on Sesame Street. Her later credits included co-composing, with lyricist Will Jennings, the 1982 Joe Cocker / Jennifer Warnes’ hit, ‘Up Where We Belong’ which featured in the movie An Officer And A Gentleman. Her welcome return to the music scene in 1992, following her signing with Chrysalis Records, produced the warmly received Coincidence And Likely Stories, which displayed her interest in computer technology (Sainte-Marie is a prominent digital artist). Up Where We Belong, released in February 1996, included several new recordings of her old material.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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