Buffy Sainte-Marie earned her degree in Oriental Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts, later received a teaching degree, and eventually a Ph.D in Fine Arts. Expecting to continue her studies and eventually teach on a reservation, in 1962 Buffy Sainte-Marie took a break from study to try her luck at singing professionally the songs that had made her a familiar face at off-campus coffee houses. Traveling all over the US, Canada and Europe, she became famous for her songs of love and conscience, like "Universal Soldier" and "Until It's Time for You to Go," which has been recorded by over 200 artists in 16 different languages.
Buffy Sainte-Marie was Billboard's Best New Artist following the release of her first record in 1964. Unlike other folk musicians of the time, Buffy experimented with electronic music, creating the first totally electronic quadraphonic vocal album in 1968. During the '60s, Sainte-Marie established her unique way of life, combining concerts in big cities with experience in grassroots Indian communities and becoming a bridge between cultures.
Performing in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Scandinavia, Buffy Sainte-Marie used her airplane tickets to combine glamourous city concerts with side trips to indigenous communities where she would both teach and learn. Thus, between 1964 and 1969 she discovered that the challenges facing Native American people were mirrored throughout the world wherever colonialism had marginalized indigenous peoples. The universality of her songs not only inspired worldwide folk/pop audiences but also provided a sense of unity to people of many backgrounds who wished to improve race relations in their own countries. During this time she traveled internationally and shared the stage with Marlon Brando, Peter Ustinov, Danny Kaye, Dinah Shore and Harry Belafonte, performing concerts for UNICEF, Save the Children, and the High Commission for Refugees.
In 1976 Buffy's son was born and she quit recording, having released 14 albums, all of which were interlaced by songs reflecting Native American realities in an era otherwise marked by stereotyping. Her songs were a very effective way of teaching, reaching millions of young adults with hard to find information. For five years she appeared as a semi-regular on "Sesame Street," working in episodes dealing with breast feeding, sibling rivalry, and Native American culture. Buffy Sainte-Marie brought Big Bird and friends to Taos Pueblo reservation, and taught The Count how to count in Cree.
The personal mandate chose to bring to the Native American episodes was the basic message that "Indians exist." Her message reached children and their caregivers of all races in 73 countries of the world three times a day and, according to Native American teachers battling virtual invisibility in school systems, was an educational triumph.
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