Marideth Sisco (b. 1943) is neither a professional singer nor an actress, but when independent film director Debra Granik started researching and gathering material for her upcoming feature Winter’s Bone (2010), she hired the veteran teacher, part-time musician and journalist as a music consultant. Set in the desolate backdrop of the Ozark Mountains in contemporary Southern Missouri, Winter’s Bone chronicles Ree Dolly’s (Jennifer Lawrence) attempt to track down her meth-cooking and missing father in order to protect her ailing mother and two younger siblings from eviction. Even though music is not central to the film, Marideth Sisco nevertheless leaves an impressive mark on the film soundtrack by contributing to six songs and making two short cameo appearances.
Sisco said one of the songs on the soundtrack was first performed around 1590, and that much of the other music in the movie was also old and traditional. “The Ozarks hasn’t changed all that much since the forties,” said Sisco. “People often drive cars that are older than their children. I do.” WSJ – Speakeasy
From a musical point of view, Marideth’s natural and authentic singing goes back to the old style of Appalachian folk and bluegrass music. Either a capella (Missouri Waltz) or accompanied by local musicians, Marideth Sisco performs traditional Appalachian songs like Come all ye fair and tender ladies, a gospel song (Farther along) and recent compositions that have been included into the traditional repertoire like “High on a mountain”, written in 1970 by North Carolina banjo player and folk singer Ola Belle Read (1916 – 2002). “Your voice is tinged with love, heartache, pain and a life truly lived” reads one comment on her blog.
On the back of the film’s commercial and critical success (Grand Jury Prize and best screenplay awards at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival as well as four Academy Award nominations), Marideth Sisco toured the songs nationwide and internationally with the same group of musicians under the name The Blackberry Winter Band. The Band is still on the road in 2013.