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Buffy Sainte-Marie is an excellent folk singer who happens to also be a activist. Her name isn't heard often enough, but her songs have been performed by Janis Joplin,Elvis Presley, The Highwaymen,Tracy Chapman, The Indigo Girls and The Boston Pops Orchestra, among others. She has a unique voice that can only be described as a cross between Grace Slick and a traditional native singer. The album The Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie Volume 1 is absolutely phenomenal ranging from a cover of Joni Mitchell's The Circle Game to simple tunes. One of the best songs on the album is "C'odine" a tune that runs right up my spine. A cover of this song was included in the "Boys Don't Cry" soundtrack. Buffy extends her tours not only to big cities, but to even the smallest of reservations.

We'd sit around the best version we had of a campfire, the fireplace. But I can tell you that we got just the wee bit medicine-manly mystical there. (Pills come in all sizes.)

Have you ever sat in front of a fire and watched the little red villages underneath the logs? There are cities there. This is where little fire people live. You can see them in there, in their very, very red houses.


When Buffy Sainte-Marie popped on the scene with her first album, It's My Way in 1964, we could not get enough of it. We played that stuff all night and wailed those chants right along with the good lady who was telling it like it is, man. Listening to Cod'ine, watching the burning Indian villages in the fire. Listening to "My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dying." Sadness was rampant. We were emoting like teenage girls. Getting all weepy over "Now That the Buffalo's Gone." Literally gushing.

Her second one was Little Wheel Spin & Spin in 1966. You could sense the beginning of the sellout here. But it was with Fire, Fleet and Candlelight in 1967 when it became obvious what was going on. I liked this album, and I'll never forget the song "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot." But this was definitely no longer folk music.

Then I began to pay attention to political matters. And so did she. It got ugly with Ms. Sainte-Marie at that point, just like it has with Martin Sheen, the Baldwin Brothers, and so many other Hollywood folks.

Now, I listen to a wonderful Joni Mitchell song she covered back then called The Circle Game, and I wince. How in God's holy name could anyone butcher that song in a more brutal fashion? She scalped it. It's a travesty. If you don't like Joni Mitchell's version, try Ian and Sylvia's take on it.


She was born February 20, 1941, on the Piapot Reserve, Saskatchewan, Canada. She was born to Cree Indian parents, and adopted by a white family.

The Vanguard label picked her up (as they did so many other wonderful folk artists back then). She had the distinction of being one of the very few Native American folksingers during that time. There was another young Creek Indian named Patrick Sky. Gossip alert: At one time, he and Buffy Sainte-Marie were an item. Back to facts. She is now married to the fairly famous record producer, Jack Nitzsche.

"Until It's Time for You to Go," perhaps the best song she ever wrote, was covered by several folks, and became a big British hit for Elvis Presley. But, all in all, this artist is one who does not stand the test of time. I wouldn't bother with her, if I were you.

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