Combining classic bluegrass balladry with a flair for the experimental, the fiddle duo of Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer have recently released their newest album Weight of the World. In addition they’ve just put out a video for the fantastic song “Oscar’s Verdict”, which transforms the real-life story of Oscar Pistorius into a chilling murder ballad.
“‘Oscar’s Verdict’ was inspired by the recent trial of South African athlete and national hero Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee who became famous after winning not only Paralympic events, but events for able-bodied runners as well,” the duo say. “The country was shocked when Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend, Reeva Steencamp, in their home, yet Oscar claimed that the shooting was a tragic mistake, and that he had mistaken Reeva for a stranger breaking into the apartment. Pistorius was convicted of the lightest possible charge, ‘culpable homicide’, and released from prison just a couple week ago.
To appropriately convey this dark subject matter, we turned to filmmakers Joshua Britt and Neilson Hubbard of Neighborhood Apart Productions who recently made a documentary (‘The Orphan Brigade’) about one of the most haunted houses in America: Octagon Hall in Franklin Kentucky. We wanted the music video to capture the horror of a murder going unpunished, so we filmed the video in the very same, very haunted Octagon Hall, late at night and in the midst of a rainstorm. Josh and Neilson skillfully incorporated footage from Oscar Pistorius’ life and trial into the background of the shots. The video is meant to allow viewers to have their own interpretation of the song while providing subtle references to a very concrete story. In a similar way, the song references specific aspects of the Pistorius trial (“thus he is innocent/the verdict’s complete/a man can run faster/without any feet”), but also addresses the general injustices that occur in the courtroom, and the power of fame and money in the legal system. ‘You’re a dishonest witness /I f it’s the truth that you sought / you should know better / the truth can be bought’. As students of old time and bluegrass music, we like to think of this song as a modern day murder ballad. The arrangement is quite modern, but the story never seems to change.”