Cover image for Buffy Sainte-Marie : the authorized biography / Andrea Warner ; foreword by Joni Mitchell.
Buffy Sainte-Marie : the authorized biography / Andrea Warner ; foreword by Joni Mitchell.
Publication Information:
Vancouver ; Berkeley : Greystone Books, [2018]
Physical Description:
298 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
"A powerful, intimate look at the life and music of a beloved folk icon and activist."-- Provided by publisher.
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
782.42164092 SAI WAR Book Adult General Collection

On Order



"Buffy Sainte-Marie is an icon and inspiration. This book is necessary--an authorized insight into the making of a legend." --Terese Marie Mailhot, author of Heart Berries

A powerful, intimate look at the life of a beloved folk icon and activist.

Folk hero. Songwriter icon. Living legend. Buffy Sainte-Marie is all of these things and more. In this, Sainte-Marie's first and only authorized biography, music critic Andrea Warner draws from more than sixty hours of exclusive interviews to offer a powerful, intimate look at the life of the beloved artist and everything that she has accomplished in her seventy-seven years (and counting).

Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964's It's My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate for Indigenous rights and freedoms, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo. Establishing herself among the ranks of folk greats such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, she has released more than twenty albums, survived being blacklisted by two U.S. presidents, and received countless accolades, including the only Academy Award ever to be won by a First Nations artist. But this biography does more than celebrate Sainte-Marie's unparalleled talent as a songwriter and entertainer; packed with insight and knowledge, it offers an unflinchingly honest, heartbreakingly real portrait of the woman herself, including the challenges she experienced on the periphery of showbiz, her healing from the trauma of childhood and intimate partner violence, her commitment to activism, and her leadership in the protest movement.

Author Notes

Andrea Warner is the author of Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography (Greystone Books, 2018) and We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the '90s and Changed Canadian Music (Eternal Cavalier Press, 2015). A freelance writer, Andrea is also an associate producer at CBC Music, a theatre critic at the Georgia Straight, a radio columnist, and the co-host of the weekly podcast Pop This!. Her pronouns are she/her/hers, and she is a settler who was born and raised in Vancouver on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Pop culture, art, and feminism make her happy. On Twitter: @_AndreaWarner

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Warner (We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the 90s and Changed Canadian Music) presents a broad overview of the career of Buffy Sainte-Marie, a Cree singer, activist, educator, and actor who was born in Saskatchewan in 1941. Sainte-Marie is known for her earnest pop songs from the 1960s through the '90s ( among them "Universal Soldier" and "Until It's Time for You to Go"), indigenous anthems ("Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"), and her years as a performer on Sesame Street in the 1970s. Quoting extensively from interviews with Sainte-Marie, Warner writes honestly about the racism Sainte-Marie experienced growing up; her opioid addiction in the 1960s; and her claims of being blacklisted, along with other indigenous people, by American radio stations in the 1970s. She documents Sainte-Marie's music collaborations (she recently recorded with Canadian throat singer Tanya Tagaq); her Native American school curriculum, the Cradleboard Teaching Project, which helps raise self-esteem; and her receiving an Academy Award for best original song ("Up Where We Belong," performed by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes). While Sainte-Marie's voice shines through-funny, sharply incisive, never bitter-some sections feel clunky due to an overreliance on direct quotes from lengthy, unedited interview transcripts. The book feels overlong, but it's nevertheless a heartfelt portrait. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Warner (We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the '90s and Changed Canadian Music) draws on 60 hours of exclusive interviews to explore the extensive achievements of Buffy Sainte-Marie (b. 1941)-as songwriter, performer, recording artist, educator, and activist. Early on, Sainte-Marie's natural musical talents and strong interest in her Cree heritage inspired her to compose songs of deep emotional eloquence that focused on the struggles for freedom and equality faced by all Indigenous peoples. She emphasized that her compositions were not an expression of anger but rather to educate listeners about the inequities encountered by Native Americans and the need to raise cultural awareness. Warner astutely describes Sainte-Marie's career, from her acclaimed performances and numerous recordings (beginning with the 1964 album It's My Way!) to her creation of highly successful educational programs and her groundbreaking work on Sesame Street. Behind-the-scenes details about Sainte-Marie's personal life are honestly and skillfully interwoven with those of her professional journey-the suffering and the joys. VERDICT For folk music enthusiasts as well as readers and institutions with a strong interest in educational awareness and activism on behalf of Indigenous peoples.-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 1
Prologuep. 5
1 Suffer the Little Childrenp. 13
2 Qu'Appelle Valley, Saskatchewanp. 25
Interlude: Buffy Sainte-Marie on surviving abusep. 46
3 Universal Soldierp. 47
4 It's My Wayp. 61
5 Cod'inep. 71
Interlude: Buffy Sainte-Marie on uncertaintyp. 86
6 My Country 'Tis of Thy People You're Dyingp. 87
7 Better to Find Out for Yourselfp. 103
8 Until It's Time for You to Gop. 117
Interlude: Buffy Sainte-Marie on famep. 128
9 Not the Lovin' Kindp. 129
10 Bury My Heart at Wounded Kneep. 141
11 Generationp. 159
12 Up Where We Belongp. 171
Interlude: Buffy Sainte-Marie on happinessp. 190
13 The Priests of the Golden Bullp. 191
14 We're Only Getting Startedp. 205
15 No No Keshageshp. 225
Interlude: Buffy Sainte-Marie on decolonizationp. 240
16 Power in the Bloodp. 241
17 Carry It Onp. 253
Afterword: Buffy and Mep. 267
Acknowledgmentsp. 276
Discographyp. 278
Notesp. 283
Bibliographyp. 289
Indexp. 291