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Buffy Sainte-Marie: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

"Tiny Desk at home? I kinda live on the road!" the legendary Buffy Sainte-Marie exclaims one song into her high-spirited set recorded a few miles outside Toronto at the beginning of the 81-year-old's umpteenth tour. Sainte-Marie has always been a wandering soul with a fierce sense of direction. The four songs she performs here with her touring band span her nearly 60-year career, connecting her righteous protest songs – including "Universal Soldier," as relevant today as it was when it became an anthem during the Vietnam War – to the love songs that have soundtracked countless slow dances. This set is a kind of Sainte-Marie primer, touching on her early days as the 1960s folk revival's brashest innovator and her mid-career turns writing country and pop hits like this set's smooth closer, "Up Where We Belong," which won her an Academy Award for best original song in 1983.

Playing a Yamaha "Silent Guitar," designed for road conditions where playing on headphones might be a requirement on a tour bus, and then switching to a small keyboard, Sainte-Marie is an easeful band leader. This occasion was, in fact, her first reunion with her touring band since the pandemic began, and their joy in playing these songs is palpable. Check out Matt Starr's rolling drum fills on "It's My Way" and bassist Mark Olexson's tender twinning with Sainte-Marie's guitar on "Until It's Time for You to Go." But mostly, revel in Sainte-Marie's inimitable spirit, one of the greatest sparks popular music has ignited.


  • "It's My Way"
  • "Until It's Time for You to Go"
  • "Universal Soldier"
  • "Up Where We Belong"

  • Buffy Sainte-Marie: vocals, guitar, keys
  • Matt Starr: drums
  • Mark Olexson: bass, vocals
  • Anthony King: guitar, vocals
  • Kibwe Thomas: keys,vocals

  • Producer: Stephen Paniccia
  • Director of Photography: Andy Hourahine
  • Camera Operator: Blair Johannes
  • Camera Operator: Jack Hourahine
  • Camera Assistant: Arani Muthucumarasamy
  • Sound Engine: Carm Milioto
  • Sound Mixer: Chris Birkett

  • Producer: Bob Boilen
  • Video Producer: Michael Zamora
  • Audio Mastering: Josh Rogosin
  • Tiny Production Team: Bobby Carter, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Maia Stern, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, NPR Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit

    Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.