The annual Polaris Music Prize goes to the Canadian artist who made the best album of the year, and this year it went to Buffy Sainte-Marie for her 2015 record Power in the Blood.
Truth be told I never heard of Buffy Sainte-Marie before this week, yet I recognized every other act who was also nominated for this year’s prize (Drake, Tobias Jesso Jr., The New Pornographers, BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah, Caribou, and the soon-to-be-renamed Viet Cong). I decided to do some research on her, since Polaris has a pretty great track record of nominations, and I’m sad to report that I’ve been missing out on such a talented artist who has been making great music for 50+ years. But I’m also happy, because now I have a few new albums to check out.
Buffy Sainte-Marie is an electro-acoustic folk musician in the vain of Björk or Kate Bush trying to be more like Bob Dylan, and she was an innovative figure in early psychedelic folk. She does everything from protest anthems, to heart-on-your-sleeve love songs, and to straight up jams with a full band. She is also a visual artist and an activist who focuses on the rights of Native Americans (she herself is a Cree). She also appeared as a musical guest on “Sesame Street” from 1976-81.
Power in the Blood is both a celebration of an influential career and another milestone for an artist who has always gone her own way, and it’s worthy of Canadian music’s highest honor.
Check out “It’s My Way” and her revision version that opens up Power in the Blood below.
“It’s My Way” (1964)
“It’s My Way” (2015 reversion via Power in the Blood)