Republished from MOVE Magazine
After members of the “Winter’s Bone” production team stopped by a music party to see singer Marideth Sisco and hear some genuine Ozark music, Sisco thought she had heard the last of them.
“I had actually forgotten about [the meeting],” the musician said.
Two years later, Sisco received a call from the film’s screenwriter, Anne Rosellini, who said the team not only wanted to use a song of hers in the movie, but it had also written in a scene for her to perform the song. Four Academy Award nominations later, “Winter’s Bone” (and its soundtrack) has received global acclaim, and Sisco, along with other musicians who contributed to the film, is touring the soundtrack’s unique Ozark style around the country.
After shooting the scene, which took much more time and effort than Sisco had expected, she assumed she had once again heard the last from the makers of the movie.
And once again, she was wrong. She was contacted twice more for other songs and was later asked to help record the movie’s soundtrack.
“This tour is kind of the culmination of all that,” Sisco said. “We had so many people asking us about the music that we finally set up this tour.”
The Ozark style of music is something completely new for most of the movie’s audience.
“It’s a lot like Appalachian music,” she said. “It’s often the same songs, but played slightly differently. We have a little less bluegrass and a little bit more old-type sound.”
The movie has done wonders for promoting this little-known style of music, and Sisco said she hopes the tour will increase its popularity even more.
“I’ve gotten letters from Greece, Argentina and Norway — just about everywhere — and all of them are saying, ‘We’ve never heard this before. Where can we get more of it?’” she said.
Sisco never thought the film would be as far-reaching as it was, especially when she had to commute 70 or 80 miles twice a day because the movie didn’t have enough funding to provide housing for musicians.
“We were cutting corners so much on the budget,” she said. “It wasn’t that I didn’t take it seriously, but I had no concept of the talent of (director) Debra Granik and her vision for this.”
It wasn’t until she was invited to Sundance Film Festival when she realized the scale of the project.
“When I saw it, I was completely blown away,” she said.
Sisco said Granik did a great job of accurately portraying the Ozark Mountain region.
“She came down here for two, three years, studying it before she tried making the film,” Sisco said. “It’s not that easy a culture to understand if you’re not part of it. I never dreamed it would be as authentic and as honest as it was.”
One of the songs Sisco recorded was the familiar “Missouri Waltz,” one of MU’s spirit songs. The original song, recorded in the 1800s, contained racially offensive language, and Sisco re-wrote some of the lyrics for the film.
“It is a lovely melody, and the sentiments are good,” she said. “It’s just that the language was a little inappropriate. I understand why Harry Truman really hated it.”
Music from the film “Winter’s Bone” will be performed live Friday at The Blue Note. Tickets are $15.