Killers of the Flower Moon | Indigenous musician Scott George caught up, backwards, in the Oscar race

(Los Angeles) Scott George lives in the US state of Oklahoma, where he spends his weeks finding affordable housing for indigenous families and his weekends singing at Osage festivals.

Set like clockwork, this routine will be disrupted by a trip to Los Angeles next month for the Oscars, where the song he composed for Martin Scorsese will be in the running for an award, notably against Billie Eilish and Mark Ronson.

“I think we could use the word “surreal”” to describe this disrupted daily life, the artist confided to AFP.

Scott George is a member of the Osage indigenous people, whose tragic fate is central to the plot of Killers of the Flower MoonMartin Scorsese’s latest film.

It recounts the murders that targeted these people to monopolize their wealth from oil, in Oklahoma at the beginning of the 20th century.e century. A dark story that seems to come straight from the minds of Hollywood screenwriters, but which is anchored in very real facts.

The film is up for ten awards at the Academy Awards on March 10. Its soundtrack was composed by Robbie Robertson, who is of Aboriginal descent.

But Martin Scorsese also wanted at all costs to have an authentic Osage song at the end of this feature film lasting more than three hours.

Powerful anthem

Scott George remembers when one of his fellow musicians spotted the director in the stands during a traditional dance ceremony. “I thought, ‘Oh wow, he’s looking at us,’” the singer says. “So when he asked us if we could do the song (for the film), we knew what he wanted. »

The musician’s first response, however, was to say no: many Osage songs contain the names of old warriors dating back two or three centuries – “They are ours. It belongs to us,” explains Scott George.

After a series of discussions with the team, the artist finally agreed to compose an original song for the film.

The result : Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)a powerful 6.5 minute anthem encouraging the Osage people to stand up and be proud, after surviving so much.

The film and song came at just the right time for elders, who have embarked on a campaign to educate younger people about their history and remind them that “we are not relics” of the past, salutes Geoffrey Standing Bear , chief of the Osage Nation.

“Music for my people”

Being shortlisted for 15 titles at the Oscars was already an achievement for the team. This was without counting on the announcement of the nomination of the song in the “best song” category.

“It’s great, isn’t it? », Rejoices actress Lily Gladstone, of indigenous origin, to AFP. “It was so important to me that an Osage person be named.”

Scott George is more mixed.

“Making music for my people gives me pleasure,” he says. “Apart from that, it’s a little more complicated… I don’t know exactly what I want.”

However, he applauds the fact that this style of music, often “represented in a comical way in cartoons”, is finally recognized as an art form in its own right.

“We understand that it’s a niche, and it probably always will be a little bit. But I hope people can listen to it and feel all the energy,” he says.

Although it has not yet been confirmed, Scott George could perform his song during the ceremony, as is generally the case for the five artists nominated in this category.

In the meantime, he has already attended several prestigious events in Hollywood, where he met “rivals” like Billie Eilish and Jon Batiste.

“The other day on a Zoom call we were all together and I was a little surprised. I wondered who these people were and what I was doing here,” he smiles.

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