The Best Music Books of 2018

By Andrea Warner

As the hardest fought struggles of the 1960s resurface, what better power source than a singer who helped stoke the fires of resistance in that era? Born in Saskatchewan and raised in Massachusetts by adopted parents, the Cree artist Buffy Sainte-Marie rose to fame in the nascent Greenwich Village folk scene. Her songs of empowerment educated audiences about indigenous rights, environmentalism, the antiwar movement, and the perils of colonialism. It speaks to Sainte-Marie’s range that she’s been covered by Elvis, Barbra Streisand, Leonard Cohen, and Françoise Hardy, yet it’s also true, as her friend Joni Mitchell writes in the book’s foreword, that the prolific Sainte-Marie remains “one of folk music’s unsung heroes.” Forged over extensive interviews (including at least one at a cat café), Canadian music journalist Andrea Warner’s biography is both a faithful chronicle of a fearless life and a poetic celebration of a lightning, large-hearted spirit. As Sainte-Marie said at a recent talk in New York, “I had my boat sank several times, I had to swim to the shore. But you know? You got to run your own life.” –Rebecca Bengal

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