Gary James' Interview With
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie made her recording debut in the '60s. Here we are 30 years later and Buffy is still recording! Buffy's latest release, "Coincidence and Likely Stories" (Ensign Records) is her first in, count 'em, 14 years!!!

Q - Buffy, 14 years?

A - Yeah, I quit recording when my son was born. He's almost 16, so it's been like 15 years.

Q - So, you took a little break.

A - I wanted to be an artist and a mommy. There's a difference between having a career and being an artist.

Q - Had you said everything you wanted to say?

A - I had already made 14 albums. I had a whole lot of money. I was living in Hawaii. It was Disco time. So, I decided to do at that time in my life, exactly what I wanted to do, for a change. I didn't feel like going on the road every time some new record came out. Even though I started out being called a Folk singer, I was not. I was a songwriter. I was more interested in original music from the beginning. The only concerts I did were at Indian Reservations and UNICEF. I was traveling with Marlon Brando and Peter Ustinov, raising money in the have countries, for the have not countries. When I quit recording, I joined the cast of Sesame Street and stayed with them for five and half years. They had never had a baby on and had never dealt with Native people. So, during these 15 years, I was being more of an artist than ever actually, even though I wasn't having a show-biz career. It's been a very rich period for me.

Q - You wrote the song "Up Where We Belong" from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman.

A - I co-wrote it.

Q - How long did it take you to write your part?

A - Oh, I don't know, two minutes I guess. It was just a song that popped into my head.

Q - You won an Oscar for that song. What does that do for your career? Does the phone ring more often?

A - No, not at all.

Q - Does it make you feel like you've got to come up with a hit more often?

A - No, neither one. It doesn't do anything. I got an Oscar in '83. So, here it is '92. (Laughs) You're hearing about me because I made a record, not because I won an Academy Award.

Q - When you were starting out, did you ever think you could make a career out of singing?

A - No I didn't. As a matter of fact, I already had a degree in Oriental Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts and I also had my certification to teach. So, during the summer after graduation, I just decided to try my luck at singing. My plan was actually to go to India and continue studying. I was going to do some graduate work in religion and the arts. So, I fully expected to study the religious expression of art or the artistic expression of religion. (Laughs) I decided to try my luck with the songs I had written. If I could've found somebody else to sing the songs, I would have. I was just a person who had a lot of songs that were very real. They came right out of my life. I had lots of emotion. I didn't think very much about singing, 'cause I really didn't think of myself as a singer.

Q - Were you "discovered" in Boston?

A - I was in New York. A lot of people came out of the Boston scene. I didn't. I went from college right to New York. I just went for the weekend to see what it would be like. I had a good time. People liked my songs. I felt very much encouraged as a writer, so I stayed, and a few weeks later I was singing around The Village. People from Philadelphia clubs asked me to come out there. All of a sudden there was kind of a buzz building up about me. Vanguard (Records) came down after there was a huge story in the New York Times. There were some other record companies interested in me too, Prestige, Blue Note. I almost wound up on a Jazz label and that would have been quite different for me. As soon as I was signed to Vanguard, people started calling me a Folk singer. That was sort of what was going on in the '60s.

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