March 31, 2008

CIA suppressed Sainte-Marie's music

Buffy Sainte-Marie:  Carrying the medicine, sharing a messageIn the 1960s, blacklisted performers were fewer and their fates less known than in the McCarthyist '50s, perhaps in part because "students ruled." (The government could harass ex-Beatle John Lennon no end, for instance, but blacklisting him to prevent his performing never would have worked--too many fans.) But quietly, the late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, still staking his reputation on the Vietnam War, marked down a few names from the peace movement, as well as a few from the civil rights movement who apparently sassed him too much, for career setbacks.

Sainte-Marie, just emerging in the 1960s, was one of them (she also mentions country bluesman Taj Mahal and actress-singer Eartha Kitt). She found her natural audiences in Canada and Native communities anyway, and took her time finding out.

"It hadn't bothered me not to know. And when I'd have a concert and there'd be, you know, several thousand people at the concert, and they'd all say, 'Well, how come we can't get your records?'--I'd be blaming it on the record company. But the record company always said that they would ship the record, but they wouldn't get to the town. And when I'd be invited on the Tonight Show or any of the late shows, the host would be very nice to me. But the producers, gradually when I would appear, they'd say, 'Look, you know, we want you to sing 'Until It's Time for You to Go' [a Sainte-Marie composition] because ... Barbara Streisand recorded it. But don't do--don't, you know, Indian rights and you know, any kind of social awareness, protest movement--don't talk about that because that's, you know, boring now.' ... I didn't think much of it. But when I found out the CIA had truly been involved in it--it was something that Indian Country Today printed last year, when that CIA agent came out and mentioned that he had been in on the suppression of my music and other artists' from that time.

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