Artist Spotlight: Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Photo Courtesy of:

Quickly earning a reputation as a gifted songwriter, visual artist, social activist, and musician in the 1960’s, Buffy Sainte-Marie is still producing and playing music today. Born in 1941 on the Piapot Cree First Nations Reserve in Saskatchewan, Canada, Sainte-Marie later went to University of Massachusetts Amherst earning degrees in teaching and Oriental philosophy. In her early 20’s in the 1960’s, Sainte-Marie was touring alone and preforming all across reservation in the United States and Canada. One of her most popular songs, “Until It’s Time for You to Go” was reproduced and recorded by many artists including Barbara Streisand, Neil Diamond, and Elvis Presley.



In 1969 she started a non-profit fund called Nihewan Foundation for American Indian Education that was devoted to improving Native American students and their participation in learning. Due to her outspoken social activism during the 1970’s, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and then Richard Nixon after him, attempted to suppress her and many other artists’ music on radio stations. She appeared on talk shows because of the success of “Until It’s Time for You to Go”, but had been told that the issues she stood for were ‘unfashionable’. So instead, she continued to support Native issues and the peace movement, and joined the cast of Sesame Street for 5 years from 1976-1981. During this time, she continued to perform at grassroots concerts, AIM (American Indian Movement) events, and other activist benefits in Canada and the US. Sainte-Marie also had 3 of her own television specials, starred in movies, won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for her song “Up Where We Belong” in 1982, and more.


In 1992, after a sixteen year recording hiatus, Sainte-Marie released the album Coincidence and Likely Stories and then later in 1996 released the album Up Where We Belong. Today, Buffy is still releasing music, including her most recent CD Running for the Drum released in 2009. Overall, Buffy Sainte-Marie has released 18 albums of music and has accomplished much. Running for the Drum won Buffy her third Juno Award, and in 2010, she received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for her excellence in the performing arts. Buffy continues to play her music and showcase her artwork in museums across the US and Canada.


Also, check out this recent Time article about Buffy and her new CD that’s due out on May 12 called Power in the Blood that features both new songs and re-recorded material.