Following a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year and in honour of Native American Heritage Month, the American Masters episode Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On premieres Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 9 p.m. on your local PBS station and the network’s website.
The life, music, and activism of the veteran Indigenous singer-songwriter are explored in this documentary that is as captivating as its subject, who smashed through barriers to become an inspiration to fans and fellow musicians alike.
Since her groundbreaking debut, 1964’s It’s My Way!, the Cree singer-songwriter has been a trailblazer and a tireless advocate, an innovative artist, and a disruptor of the status quo. Sainte-Marie has spent her whole life creating, and her artistry, humanitarian efforts, and Indigenous leadership have made her a unique force in the music industry. In 1969, she made one of the world’s first electronic vocal albums; in 1982 she became the only Indigenous person to win an Oscar; she spent five years on Sesame Street, where she became the first woman to breastfeed on national television. She’s been blacklisted and silenced. She’s written pop standards sung and recorded by the likes of Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Donovan, Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. She penned Universal Soldier, the definitive anti-war anthem of the 20th century. She is an icon who keeps one foot firmly planted on either side of the North American border, in the unsurrendered territories that comprise Canada and the USA.
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On features never-before-seen archival material, new performance footage and interviews with Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell, Sonia Manzano, John Kay, Robbie Robertson, Jackson Browne and others. This well-researched film divulges many lesser-known details of Sainte-Marie’s life and brings together a fine collection of subjects whose love and admiration is palpable — most notably Mitchell, who beams with affection when she talks about her. Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On is a much-needed, inspiring biography of one of our most revered and courageous artists.