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Buffy Sainte-Marie

The Authorized Biography

by (author) Andrea Warner

foreword by Joni Mitchell

Greystone Books Ltd
Initial publish date
Feb 2021
Arts Education, English Language Arts, Social Justice
Grade Levels
11 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2018
    List Price
  • Downloadable audio file

    Publish Date
    Dec 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2021
    List Price

Where to buy it

Descriptive Review

This authorized biography presents Buffy Sainte-Marie’s life story, starting with her experiences as a Cree girl adopted off her reserve in the 1940s and ending with her continued advocacy for Indigenous rights (such as her involvement in the American Indian Movement) through her music activism today. She talks about the traumas and abuses that motivated her to become a singer, and the struggles she faced (including explicit and overt racism) in the music industry. Many of the chapters focus on specific songs throughout her career and the intentional choices she made regarding those songs. This book would be a good reference resource for high school students in Social Studies, English, and Music – especially those who are interested in social justice, law, gender studies, and Indigenous rights, or simply in the story of Buffy’s life and the reality of one person’s journey in showbiz.

304 pp., 6 × 9", colour and b&w photographs • Bibliography • Index

Andrea Warner

Source: Association of Book Publishers of BC - Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools (2021-2022)

About the authors

Andrea Warner writes about music, feminism, and pop culture and is the author of We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music. She contributes to CBC Music, Pitchfork, the Georgia Straight, and Exclaim! and co-hosts the podcast Pop This!

Andrea Warner's profile page

Joni Mitchell was born in Fort Macleod, Alberta, and began her career singing in coffeehouses of Saskatoon and busking on the streets in Toronto. Her albums Song to a Seagull, Clouds, and Ladies of the Canyon helped her to become a folk music icon, and in 1997 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was appointed a Companion to the Order of Canada in 2002.

Joni Mitchell's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Sainte-Marie’s voice shines through—funny, sharply incisive, never bitter... a heartfelt portrait."
Publishers Weekly

"Merriment and perseverance together – the image Warner’s writing casts is one of an insightful leader, whose commitment to joy in learning has only grown over the years. This is at the heart of the biography – one which arguably is decades overdue."
— Globe and Mail

"At the core of Warner's portrait of Sainte-Marie lies a courageous, creative, funny woman who was decades ahead of her time."

Warner['s]... biography of this soaring icon powerfully reveals Sainte-Marie’s cultural advocacy while shining a much-needed light on her essential humanity, life experiences, and prodigious musical talent.
— Booklist

"This well-rounded and thorough authorized biography is perfectly timed – not just welcome but vita...Warner understands how intrinsically art and activism coexist for Sainte-Marie. There wouldn’t be one without the other. "
 — Quill & Quire

"I admired Buffy’s forthrightness, and her boldness and courage. "

"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 crucial and compelling book that further cements Buffy Sainte-Marie's place in music history."
— Jessica Hopper, author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic

"Buffy Sainte-Marie is a beacon: she shows us how unwavering vision and fierce independence go hand-in-hand with the work of creating solidarity, community, justice, and beauty. This book is the captivating story of that achievement."
— Naomi Klein, author of No is Not Enough and This Changes Everything

“Buffy Sainte-Marie’s career is enormously more impressive and significant than has been acknowledged or understood. This book draws decades of incredible, world-changing accomplishments together to make an irrefutable case for her place among the rock ‘n’ roll and songwriting greats. ”
— Tanya Tagaq, Inuk songwriter and throat singer; winner of the 2014 Polaris Prize for Animism as well as multiple Juno Awards. 

"A wonderful read! Buffy Sainte-Marie's creative soul has led her, as surely as a compass, in her art, political engagement, and a life of moral purpose."
— Dar Williams, author of What I Found in A Thousand Towns

“Long overdue, Andrea Warner’s expansive, authorized biography reveals the astonishing range and breadth of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s work as a musician and writer, activist, educator, and spiritual leader.  She is a true star, and this book goes a long way toward showing us how and why.”
— Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick and After Kathy Acker: A Biography

“This book serves as proof that one person can make a world of difference. Buffy Sainte-Marie is a wonder—and the writing here reflects her truth, gentle forcefulness, intellect, and thoughtfulness.”
— Tracey Lindberg, author of Birdie

"Warner has composed an extraordinary portrait of one of our most extraordinary artists, a book that feels suffused with Buffy Sainte-Marie's personality and spirit."
— Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors

"In this heartfelt and revealing book, Buffy Sainte-Marie helps us to realize that out of loss and denial can come enormous gifts and beauty."
— Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada (1999-2005)