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Radical Acts: An Interview with Andrea Warner

Andrea Warner follows up her fantastic debut, We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music, with Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography, and here she talks to us about the challenges of biography, chronology, and the experience of working with a music legend. 

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49th Shelf: “My God, how does one write a Biography?” wrote Virginia Woolf once, and she’s just one of many writers who’ve struggled with the genre. I imagine it’s a bit easier, however, when you’ve got the person you’re writing about telling stories down the telephone and reading over your manuscript, offering clarity and answering questions. Do you think you could have written this book without Buffy Sainte-Marie being a partner in the project? Would you have wanted to? 

Andrea Warner: I wouldn’t have done this without Buffy’s consent and support. Her voice is essential and so powerful. This is her life story and she doesn’t really need me to do tell it. She’s Buffy Sainte-Marie, she’s an amazing storyteller. But what I can do as a writer and as a feminist music critic who has spent years writing about Buffy’s music and the music business is provide a framework for her story and contextualize her journey so far. 

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She’s Buffy Sainte-Marie, …

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Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way

Book Cover Buffy Sainte-Marie It's My Way

Blair Stonechild is author of Buffy Sainte-Marie: It's My Way, the newly released authorized biography.

Kerry Clare: As a writer, what compelled you to take on Buffy Sainte-Marie as your subject? Of the many dimensions of her talent and story, which interested you the most?

Blair Stonechild: I recall Buffy as a huge inspiration during my university days in the early 1970s. She has had a nearly 50 year career and is known and loved world wide. When I realized she didn’t have a substantial biography, I decided to approach her. I wanted her inspirational story to be fully known. One of the main things I learned is how natural and broad her talent and creativity is and how she triumphed over adversity. She provides a great example to many Aboriginal and other youth who feel desperate about their situation that determination and drive can get you somewhere.  

KC: Your previous books were about Canadian First Nations history and educational policy. It seems a big leap from those books to a celebrity biography. But what are the connections between your new book and the other two? What were you able to bring to a biography of Buffy Sainte-Marie that the average biographer couldn’t have offered?

BS: Because Buffy has roots in and links to the First Nations community, my i …

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