PUBLISHED IN THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR ON Thursday, March 23, 1997

 

BY NICK KREWEN

Being inducted into the Juno Hall Of Fame isn't going to stop BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE from speaking her mind.

A Cree singer, songwriter, actress, artist and activist who has spent her life crusading for native rights and cultural protection, the 54-year-old Saskatchewan native says the Best Music Of Aboriginal Canada Juno category she helped create last year simply isn't enough.

"Congratulations to all the aboriginal music nominees, but obviously we need a second category in order to encompass the full scope of what we're putting out that's unique in Canada," says Sainte-Marie, who will be present at Copps to receive her award Sunday.

"All the nominees this year are basically pop artists, and that's not really what we had in mind when we founded this category. We're trying to recognize the fact that grass roots pow-wow music is selling.

"I think it's selling so well, it deserves a category of its own. And I don't think ethnic music is ever going to be able to compete with pop music."

Born on Piapot Reserve just outside Regina, Sainte-Marie was adopted and raised in Maine. As a teenager, she moved to New York and became part of the Greenwich Village folk scene, eventually signing a contract with Vanguard Records, and releasing her first album, It's My Way, in 1964.

Sainte-Marie is probably best known as a songwriter, as artists such as British folk singer DONOVAN and ELVIS PRESLEY had big hits with "Universal Soldier" and "Until It's Time For You To Go". In 1981, she co-wrote "Up Where We Belong", recorded by JOE COCKER and JENNIFER WARNES as the theme song for the movie An Officer And A Gentleman, which netted her an Academy Award for Best Song.

In the 1970's, Sainte-Marie quit the recording scene for sixteen years to raise her son DAKOTA WOLFCHILD, instead appearing on Sesame Street for five years.

Now based in Hawaii, which she calls "the rainiest place in the world,"

Sainte-Marie spends much of her time at home composing and painting on her computers.

"I'm pleasantly surprised," says Sainte-Marie of her induction. "I've had an unusual career. I haven't had the career of somebody who's dedicated to being on the charts, and I think it's very nice that the Junos would honor somebody who is definitely an alternative artist, as opposed to a hit artist."

Currently working on four albums, including a Christmas record and a children's project, Buffy Sainte-Marie is also spending much of her time these days teaching native musicians about copyright protection.

"I'm circulating a lot of information about copyrighted material," explains Sainte-Marie. "There is the concern that in a couple of years, the entire literature of Native Canadians will be on some publisher's wall like a trophy, in which case it will be out of our hands. People do collect Indian things without regard, and all kinds of people will go in and record Indian music without according it the respect that they would for pop.

"I'm really pushing very hard to have a museum like the Smithsonian feel obligated to provide grass roots people with the information they need to copyright our material. It is our intellectual property and should not be taken out of our hands."

-30-

 

DISCOGRAPHY

1964 -- It's My Way  -- Vanguard

1966 -- Little Wheel Spin & Spin

1968 -- I'm Gonna Be A Country Girl Again

1971 -- She Used To Want To Be A Ballerina

1972 -- Fire & Fleet & Candlelight

1973 -- Quiet Places

1973 -- Moonshot

1974 -- Native Northamerican Child

1974 -- Buffy -- MCA

1975 -- Changing Woman

1976 -- Best Of Buffy Sainte Marie, Vol. 1

1976 -- Best Of Buffy Sainte Marie, Vol. 2

1976 -- Sweet America

1991 -- Coincidence And Likely Stories --  Chrysalis

1996 -- Up Where We Belong

 

©1997, 1999 Nick Krewen, Octopus Media Ink

Home

About Octopus Media Ink