Three Questions About Human Rights with Buffy Sainte-Marie
Curating the Canadian Concert for Human Rights for the opening of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights is an exciting opportunity for us. The diversity of music we have lined-up for September 20 at The Forks will make for a truly special day.
Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the stellar line-up (which also includes Bruce Cockburn, Shad, Ashley MacIsaac, A Tribe Called Red and Marie-Pierre Arthur) and we had the opportunity to ask her questions about music and musicians place within the pursuit of human rights. Her answers are powerful.
What do you think the role of music is in human rights?
To inform and inspire both locally and globally. A 3-minute song can be more effective than a 400-page textbook in informing people beyond the party lines. Long ago, troubadours used to spread the news, which sometimes was dangerously opposite to what current authorities wanted people to know. Artists can bring alternative perspectives about how people treat each other, both historically and now.
How has activism and the pursuit of Human Rights shaped your music?
I've seen how all three topics - activism, human rights and music - get stymied by greed and the war racket. Discussions about talent, fairness and racism are often just the new clothing that the old emperors wear as they loot the economy and turn the world to pocket change. Being involved in philanthropy and human rights globally over many years, I've continually learned how controlled we are in systems wherein a powerful few pretty much call the shots for civilians, and control the military. Payola and greed try to be king; gatekeepers and lawyers control the music, perfume, media and fashion industries; and the richest countries in the world have made the worst wars in history. This is not the time to quit on each other.
Who is your inspiration?
Gandhi, the writer John Horgan who wrote The End of War, the poet Rumi, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Harry Belafonte, Naomi Wolf, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama… and people in my family who are not famous.
Next week we’ll feature another great artist from the September 20th line-up! For the full schedule of opening-weekend performances and events, check out the museum's website at www.humanrights.ca.
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