Buffy Sainte-Marie: 5 songs that changed my life

What music brings joy to an industry pioneer who has spent a lifetime creating love songs and protest ballads? A little of everything, it turns out.

From Charles & Eddie’s 1992 crowd-pleaser “Would I Lie to You,” to a lesser-known love song by the king of rock ‘n’ roll, get to know some of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s favourite songs in the video above, recorded at CBC Music.

Believed to be born in the Piapot First Nation Reserve in southern Saskatchewan, and raised in Massachusetts, Sainte-Marie, now 81, has led a rich and colourful life that’s reflected in her musical taste and the stories attached to them.

“Songs are like snapshots of your life,” she says in Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry it On, the new documentary about her life and 60-year career. The film, directed by Madison Thomas and co-written by CBC Music’s Andrea Warner, premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.

Speaking to CBC Music about another Saskatchewan musician, Sainte-Marie recalls the impact of Joni Mitchell’s music and art:

“She’s like me, she writes about everything,” Sainte-Marie says of her friend and fellow singer-songwriter. “There’s something about the poignancy of not just her poetry but the way she presents it, and I understand that as an artist, especially if you’re writing your own songs, and it’s coming from your heart. If you happen to sing it in that mood it just does something, it becomes a cohesive work of art that’s bigger than singers and songs.”

Tune in to CBC-TV and CBC Gem on Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. (8 p.m. NT) for Buffy Sainte-Marie: Starwalker, recorded at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. Indigenous artists including Jeremy Dutcher, Leela Gilday and William Prince perform in a musical tribute to Sainte-Marie. The guest of honour joins her band onstage for an unforgettable finale.

Projections advertise Buffy Sainte-Marie: Starwalker at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. (Submitted by the NAC)