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article imageNative American Singer Saint Marie Recaptures World with Song

By Carol Forsloff     Aug 6, 2009 in Entertainment
Buffy Saint Marie was part of a generation of singers who brought messages of peace and protest in the 1960’s. She was the first Native Canadian- American to become a world class performer. Now, at age 68, she makes a major re-entry on the world stage
July and August have been busy for Buffy, as she has been the darling of European music connoisseurs, many of whom have not forgotten her contribution to not only American music but the music of the world. She has recently visited Denmark where she garnered large crowds. The Guardian has devoted a number of newspaper articles recently about her musical ventures in Europe, underlining the energy and talent as well as the devoted followers Buffy Saint Marie continues to have.
The Guardian speaks of Buffy’s past that includes breastfeeding publicly on Sesame Street and her compositions, one of which became the anthem of war protest, the song “Universal Soldier” The newspaper glances at her interesting past, as even the FBI was once said to be paying attention. The paper describes the singer-songwriter-educator-activist as looking quite fabulous and her being modest and calling attention to advocacy and education, especially of the ethnic group that defines her. In 1996 she was awarded a Kellogg Grant to set up an educational program for indigenous children of the Americas, something which has been her passion since, along with her music and painting.
Buffy was born February 20, 1941 in Saskatchewan, Canada. She started on the folk music circuit in 1962, shortly after college graduation. From then her music took off, as she joined the ranks of the greats during the 1960’s, where songs of protest, freedom and peace were the popular genre. She was ranked with Janis Ian, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Odetta and others as representing the music of the era. She wrote the song “Until It’s Time for You to Go” that was recorded by both Elvis Presley and Barbara Streisand, as well as “Universal Soldier” and other songs that were made popular and continue to be part of American music played on radio and performed by entertainers around the world.
Buffy is lauded for her contributions to Native American culture, by both Canada and France, in fairly recent years. Her many awards include being an “Academy Award-Winning Canadian First Nations musician, composer, visual artist, pacifist, educator and social activist.” She was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. Her album Coincidence and Likely Stories recorded in 1992. This album won a Best International Artist award from France. She also has a Ph.D., an honorary law degree and many other honorary degrees from various universities for her various artistic and education endeavors.
Recently in late July and early August Buffy performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Cambridge Folk Festival in the United Kingdom. She is presently on tour with a busy calendar with performances upcoming in Montreal and New York. Earlier in July she performed in Japan.
This versatile entertainer, one of the pioneers of the folk music of the 1960’s, continues to advocate the cause of the Native American and in her senior years shows the energy and interest she had in her youth for the plight of people in trouble and the cause of peace everywhere. She has lived more than 30 years, since the early 1970's, in Hawaii where she has been married to and romantically involved with Native Hawaiians, cementing the relationship she has with the Native American community in the broader sense. Canadians refer to her as First Canadian, but she refers to herself, as others who write about her, as a Native American, seeing herself as part of the continent of Native Americans of both northern and southern hemispheres.
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