Peter Buffett - A biography

Emmy Award-winning musician Peter Buffett has an acclaimed career that spans more than 28 years as a professional songwriter, producer, artist, performer, recording engineer, independent label owner and composer for film and television.

Beyond music, social action and philanthropy are very important to Buffett. His tireless work with numerous non-profit organizations and charities has made him into a well-known activist for social concerns and these messages play out through his music.

Peter's latest album, Imaginary Kingdom, was released on September 23rd, 2008 through his own imprint BeSide Records. His third solo vocal album, this record cements his reputation as a recording artist with something to say. Imaginary Kingdom was recorded and mixed in Buffett's home studio in New York City, and proves to be an intensely personal journey of self-expression. His lyrics resonate his passion for social change and are accompanied with backgrounds of a chilling piano, intense percussion and graceful bass lines. Combining elements of soft and progressive rock with a contemporary vocal sound, the album reflects the unique pop sensibilities of Beck and Teenage Fan Club, the weightless harmonies of Elliott Smith and Matthew Sweet, and the dreamy pop/rock tromp of Guster or Death Cab For Cutie.

Buffett recently performed the first single from Imaginary Kingdom, "Can We Love?" in New Orleans at the 10th anniversary of Eve Ensler's V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. To this day, Buffett is the only man to have ever perform on stage at a V-Day festival. "I hope that by the end of this song all the men in the room are singing along with me," Buffett said about his monumental performance. "I sing this song as the voice of a child who didn't understand the hatred in Selma that he saw on television and the voice of a man who doesn't understand the violence in the Congo that he reads about in the newspaper."

Currently, Peter is collaborating both musically and professionally with Grammy-nominated and international recording artist Akon. It began when Buffett wrote the song "Anything" (which appeared on his 2007 album Staring at the Sun) after visiting post-war Liberia and Sierra Leone. Akon, an avid supporter of aid organizations benefiting his home of Senegal, viewed the video Buffett created after his trip and was immediately inspired to contribute, working with Buffett to produce and sing on a new remix of the track. In June 2008, Peter and Akon launched the website to promote social action through social networking, and have continued to develop their creative friendship with their new song, "Blood Into Gold," which debuted at a special concert held in the UN General Assembly around The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Peter Buffett launched his new 'Concert and Conversation' series tour in the Fall of 2008, which kicked off with a special evening at The Paley Center for Media (formerly The Museum of Television & Radio) in Los Angeles in October. The 'Concert and Conversation' series presents an entertaining and informative look at the things Peter was taught, the lessons he's learned, and their effect in creating the man he's become. It spotlights Peter's extensive background in music, punctuated with stories about his philanthropic and life experiences as the son of one of the most noteworthy investors of our time. Peter performs selections from Imaginary Kingdom, and shares exclusive videos of his work and philanthropic activities in an informal setting. Buffett continues to take this show on the road to concert and lecture halls including the Berklee College of Music, Syracuse University and Columbia University.


Peter started formal music lessons at age six after banging away on the piano since he was big enough to climb up on the bench. In 1979, he left Stanford University after one year to become a professional musician. Peter landed his first breakthrough job in 1981 audio-branding logos for MTV. This launched his career with ad agencies in San Francisco writing commercial jingles for clients including the California Milk Advisory Board, Sprint, CNN Headline News, and Coca-Cola.

His experience in advertising led to composing jobs in film and television. Peter scored the memorable "Fire Dance" scene in the Oscar winning film Dances With Wolves and performed at the film's premiere. Through his relationship with Kevin Costner, he composed the full score for 500 Nations, the eight-hour Emmy-awarded CBS miniseries Costner produced. Peter had the opportunity to work with film composer John Barry at the famed Abbey Road studios, while contributing to the score for The Scarlet Letter. Additionally, Peter has composted for An American Portrait (earning him a Best Soundtrack Emmy), Triathlon: Through the Eyes of the Elite, and Ojibwe (resulting in a second Emmy).

From 1987 to the present, Buffett has released 15 records, and has been signed with such labels as Narada, Epic and Hollywood Records. He now owns two independent labels, BisonHead and BeSide Records. Most of Peter's releases had been instrumental recordings until 2006, with the album Goldstar, on which he "found" his voice (Peter had originally considered putting that album out under another name because he was afraid to expose himself). Having devoted his entire career to creating electronic-based music for compact disc, film and theater, and writing songs for others to sing, Buffett literally had no idea what to expect from his own natural instrument. He was "surprised and thrilled" to discover that the vocal sounds coming out of the studio monitors bore the distinct echoes of the artists he'd cut his teeth on, particularly Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds and The Beatles.

Peter's theatrical production, Spirit-The Seventh Fire, began as a 1995 benefit concert for Robert and Jamie Redford in which Buffett combined his Native American-inspired music with live native dancing, powwow drummers and the singing of Chief Hawk Pope. The experience was not only personally gratifying, but universally well-received; after first being aired as a successful PBS Pledge Special, the Spirit show embarked on a four-month tour of the U.S in 1999. The reworked, Buffett-produced Spirit - The Seventh Fire returned in 2004 as part of the national Lewis and Clark Bicentennial events across the U.S., as well as being staged for the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. The show brought together Imax-scale film and imagery, live music, and an all-Native American cast of performers. The show tells the story of one man's journey of reconnecting with his heritage and the land he lives on. Spirit is currently trying to schedule tours in Europe and China.