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Joni Mitchell writes about her deep respect for Buffy Sainte-Marie

Foreword written by singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Excerpted from the book, “Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography,” written by Andrea Warner. “Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography” is available for purchase here.


When I started out in the sixties there weren’t many women writing music, but Buffy Sainte-Marie was an exception to the rule.

Joni Mitchell, Los Angeles. Library of Congress

Whenever Buffy came through town I went down to the coffee house to hear her play. Her songs were so smart, so well-crafted, and her performances were stunning. She was different from the stereotypical music industry old boys’ club. When I moved to Toronto to pursue music, I stopped at the Mariposa Folk Festival on the way to see Buffy perform. A year later, I played that same festival, so you could say I followed in Buffy’s footsteps.

Buffy really helped me at the beginning: before I was well-known, she performed songs I wrote, bringing them to a wider audience, and she played my tape for anyone who would listen.

Over the years since, Buffy and I have maintained a long-distance mutual respect.

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We have ties to Saskatchewan, but we share more than just a home: we both write songs with emotion, songs with a message. And to this day, we both walk our own path. I’ve watched Buffy’s long career with admiration, and I’m honored to write this foreword to her authorized biography.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of folk music’s unsung heroes, and her inspirational life is a story that deserves to be read.

—Joni Mitchell, June 2018

Adapted and excerpted with permission of publisher Greystone Books.

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