Buffy Sainte-Marie Won the Polaris Prize and $50,000 for Power in the Blood

Buffy Sainte-Marie Wins Polaris Prize for Power in the Blood

Suzette Brewer

Legendary First Nations singer-songwriter Buffy St. Marie was awarded the 2015 Polaris Music Prize for her new album, Power in the Blood, at an awards ceremony at the historic Carlu event center in Toronto, Ontario in September. Along with the recognition comes a cash award of $50,000.

The music career of Sainte-Marie, 74, who is Piapot Cree from Saskatchewan, Canada, has spanned over 50 years. But it is her latest effort—a spectacular, multi-genre mashup that synthesizes political commentary, tribal rights and love songs set to hip hop, bluegrass, blues, reggae and rock—that has catapulted her into the consciousness of a new generation. In particular, the album’s powerful title track “Power in the Blood,” takes no prisoners in spelling out the current state of world affairs in regards to government, the environment and Wall Street:

“No time for spin doctor’s medicine

Weaponizing pesticides poisoning my rosaries.”

Nothing but another drug

A license they can buy and sell.”

With Power in the Blood, Sainte-Marie’s writing skills are on fierce display, having written all but two of the 12 songs, which were recorded and produced in Toronto. Rounding out the album is a updated version of the song that launched her career, It’s My Way, which reveals an older, stronger, if not more world weary, Sainte-Marie, whose seasoned voice cuts like a knife through the five decades she has been performing. Power in the Blood is a powerful reminder that Native women have something to say and that the world should perhaps take heed.

The Polaris honors creativity and diversity in Canadian music, regardless of genre, professional affiliation or sales history, which is selected by a jury of 11 music critics drawn from a pool of more than 200, according to the organization’s website.

Other nominees for the 2015 Polaris Music Prize included:

Alvvays – Alvvays

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah– Sour Soul

Braids – Deep In The Iris

Caribou – Our Love

Jennifer Castle – Pink City

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Tobias Jesso Jr. – Goon

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

Buffy Sainte-Marie– Power In The Blood

Viet Cong – Viet Cong

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