S – is for the incredible Buffy Sainte-Marie

Friday 28th October

I first heard, and heard of, Buffy in the Lower Sixth at Grammar School.  This would have been ’67 or maybe early ’68.  People started coming into school with Albums under their arms, Bob Dylan – ‘Blonde on Blonde’ or Joan Baez; there was a thriving folkie movement and Buffy was in the vanguard – and co-incidentally on Vanguard records.  She was born in 1941, a Cree Indian in Que’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan, Canada.  She has been a folk-singer, an Indian activist, a peace campaigner, an educator, a presenter on Sesame Street and a great songwriter, her songs being recorded by Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra and Jennifer Warnes and Joe Cocker (Up where we belong) among many others.

Many of her early recordings were just her and a guitar and a mouth bow which she played while singing, she also loved country music and recorded a brilliant album “I’m Gonna Be A Country Girl Again’.  In 1969 she released an album, ‘Illuminations’ where every sound is synthesised from just her voice and guitar; it is modern and incredible (and includes a song she wrote to a poem written by Leonard Cohen in his book Beautiful Losers).  She recorded the title song of the film Soldier Blue, about Indian Massacres, and her Indian Culture and Indian Injustices (Now That The Buffalo’s Gone) are never far from her work.  She now releases albums sporadically which are still excellent and relevant, with soft gentle ballads and hard-hitting rock songs often with Indian choirs and rhythms.  Her voice is still splendid, unlike many of her contemporaries and she lives in Hawaii these days.  Hopefully she still has some more music left for us to hear.


See original image