Buffy Sainte-Marie on Okawimaw askiy

Buffy Sainte-Marie fits into the ethos of my zine perfectly. The point of this magazine is to talk about artists that I admire that champion a cause using art and music to engender this change.

Buffy is an artist that provokes memories of my childhood days. She is a visual artist, singer, songwriter, activist and pacifist. She is an advocate for the protection of this planet and its peoples and her music and words certainly shout this out.

I had the extreme honour and pleasure of photographing Buffy on her latest world tour to promote her thought provoking album – Power in the Blood. The venue was the Brooklyn Bowl at the 02 (worthy of a mention, for it relaxed and informal atmosphere).

The audience were fairly relaxed and laid back; certainly not  the  usual crowds that I am used to. They waited eagerly for Buffy’s stage entrance and when she walked on stage, she walked into an arena of raucous roaring of sheer admiration.

She is a small lady but what an amazing voice she has – she truly sings from the heart and means every word she sings. Her performance was tribal, strong and totally alive: The set was bursting with pure energy and certainly had the audience  (including myself) reeling and jumping around. Throughout the evening Buffy was quoting from one of her lectures about our own responsibilities to help each other and our planet, to speak up against greed – for it is greed that is truly destroying our world and its inhabitants – and it always has been.

She wrote a song called No No Keshagesh (Keshagesh is a Cree word that roughly translates as greedy guts) this song is about the rape of this planet and the destruction of peoples by the elite few, to pillage the Earth resources for monetary gain. It is an impressive song that has an hypnotic Native American tribal beat running through it. This song certainly impressed me.

The set was laced with some of Buffy’s love songs including, Until its Time for You to Go. This is one of her most well known songs and was recorded by many artists including Elvis Presley and Shirley Bassey. Buffy’s rendition of her own song certainly brought a tear to my eye and to a few other people’s. Her set was contemporary, but isn’t that Buffy anyway? She has always been different, not fitting into the mould, but why should she? Why should any of us, for that matter? Her music does not fit into any box. She is a free and expressive spirit that has many wise words to deliver, and if music and art is her way of delivering it, then that is all good. For music and art has the power to effect change.

Buffy echoes my own feelings on life, as an artist, Mother, woman and lover of life with all of it’s beautiful diversity. Her songs to me are not protest songs but rather songs of guidance. WE would all do well to listen to her words – to learn from the past and act now to protect our futures, our children and our planet.

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