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AMERICAN MASTERS: Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Matt Barnes
/
PBS
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV + Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 / PBS Video App

Over a career spanning six decades, Cree musician, artist and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie has used her platform to campaign for Indigenous and women’s rights and inspired multiple generations of musicians, artists and activists. Following a world premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival in 2022, AMERICAN MASTERS “Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On” premieres nationwide in honor of Native American Heritage Month.

AMERICAN MASTERS: Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On: Preview

Directed by Madison Thomas, the film chronicles Sainte-Marie’s rise in New York’s Greenwich Village folk music scene through her groundbreaking career, featuring interviews with Joni Mitchell (singer, songwriter, artist), Sonia Manzano (Maria on SESAME STREET), John Kay (lead singer-songwriter of Steppenwolf, solo artist), Robbie Robertson (musician), Jackson Browne (musician), George Stroumboulopoulos (music journalist), Andrea Warner (author) and more.

Buffy Sainte-Marie (center)
Christie Goodwin
/
PBS
Buffy Sainte-Marie (center)

Sainte-Marie’s career took flight when she received a rave review in The New York Times and caught the eye of Vanguard Records, who released her debut album, “It’s My Way.” Consistently recognized for being ahead of her time, Sainte-Marie’s music revealed her most sincere opinions differentiating her from the other female pop musicians of the 1960s.

When Buffy Sainte-Marie wrote the "first feminist anthem"

Early in her career she spoke out against the Vietnam War with her song “Universal Soldier,” against readily available opioids with “Cod’ine” and shared her views on romance with “Until It’s Time for You to Go,” which has been covered by artists such as Elvis, Barbra Streisand, Cher and Neil Diamond.

The origins of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier"

Sainte-Marie changed perceptions of Indigenous people in music, film and television. When approached to play a lead role in a 1968 episode of “The Virginian,” she famously demanded that all Indigenous roles be played by Indigenous peoples. Additionally, across her five-year stint on SESAME STREET, she was the first woman to nurse on television, and she helped create segments based on her experiences as an Indigenous woman in North America.

Buffy Sainte-Marie brought Indigenous representation to TV

After winning the Academy Award for writing “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman” with her then husband, Jack Nitzsche, Saint-Marie stepped out of the spotlight.

How Buffy Sainte-Marie won an Oscar for "Up Where We Belong"

She returned to music after a fourteen-year hiatus with her critically acclaimed album “Coincidence and Likely Stories.” In 2015, she beat out Drake for the Polaris Music Prize for her album “Power in the Blood.”

At the age of 81, Sainte-Marie actively tours and continues to be an activist for Indigenous rights, including championing efforts to end the oppression of and violence against Indigenous women.

RELATED: The essential Buffy Sainte-Marie playlist

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Buffy Sainte-Marie / PBS
/
PBS
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Watch On Your Schedule:

AMERICAN MASTERS is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

Credits:

An Ontario-Manitoba co-production. A production of Eagle Vision, White Pine and Paquin Entertainment Pictures in association with American Masters Pictures and Vision Maker Media. Directed by Madison Thomas. Written by Madison Thomas and Andrea Warner. Lisa Meeches, Kyle Irving, Rebecca Gibson, Peter Raymont, Steve Ord, Andrew Munger, Gilles Paquin, Ray Halbritter, Randy Lennox, Michael Kantor and Francene J. Blythe-Lewis are executive producers. Lisa Meeches and Stephen Paniccia are producers. Michael Kantor is executive producer for AMERICAN MASTERS.

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