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James Beaty: OPINION: RAMBLIN' ROUND: Robbie Robertson, Scott George and Osage Singers up for Academy Awards on Sunday

Mar. 10—Hey music lovers, here's a question.

What do the songs "Sweet Leilani," "Man or Muppet," "I Need to Wake Up," "It Goes Like It Goes" and "Jai Ho" have in common?

Ok, I intentionally made that a tough question. This one should be a little easier.

What's the commonality among these five songs? "Moon River," "Over the Rainbow," "My Heart Will Go On," "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight."

Yep, not only were the aforementioned 10 songs all from the movies, they were all winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

While the five songs beginning with "Moon River" are still remembered today by many music and movie fans, it's safe to say the five songs that began with "Sweet Leilani" have not exactly become enduring standards.

What started me to thinking about the Academy Award winners for Best Song is the 94th Annual Academy Awards set for Sunday, March 10, live from the Dolby Theatre. It airs on ABC beginning at 6 p.m. Central Time.

Since it's starting an hour earlier than usual, it hopefully will wind up with the announcements of the major winners, including Best Picture, sooner than in previous telecasts.

I hope to watch part of the program and it has nothing to do with "Barbieheimer" — the mashup name for the smash hit films "Barbie" and Oppenheimer" — except they are also nominees in a couple of categories in which I'm especially interested.

I've always been more interested in seeing who wins for Best Song and Best Original Score, just as much — and usually more — than I am in seeing which movie wins for Best Picture.

This year's no exception — though the ones I'm rooting for in the Best Song and Best Original Score categories this year might be considered long-shots by the oddsmakers.

Still, I'm going to be rooting for Oklahoma's own Scott George, a Best Song nominee for his song "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from the Martin Scorsese-directed movie, "Killers of the Flower Moon."

I concede he faces some tough competition. Two of the other Best Song nominees are from the box office blockbuster," Barbie."

They include "What Was I Made For?", written by Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas, and "I'm Just Ken," written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt.

Also nominated for Best Song are "The Fire Inside," written by perennial Oscar nominee Diane Warren, along with "It Never Went Away," written by Jon Batiste and Don Wilson.

It's a major achievement for Scott George and "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" people to be nominated and I'm hoping George is an upset winner.

The original artists are set to perform their Best Song nominees for the Sunday night telecast, so Scott George and the Osage Singers are set to perform "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" during the Academy Awards show.

Billie Eilish is set to perform "What I Was Made For" and Jon Batiste will perform "It Never Went Away." Becky G performs the Warren-written song, "The Fire Inside."

While there has been some pre-show talk that Ryan Gosling will be joined by an army of dancers when he performs "I'm Just Ken," one the show's producers is predicting the performance of "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" by Scott George and the Osage Singers will be a highlight of the Academy Awards telecast.

I plan on cheering on my fellow Oklahomans Sunday night during the 96th Annual Academy Awards.

Best Song is only one of the music categories I plan to watch this weekend.

The other is for Best Original Score, since one of my all-time favorite musicians, songwriters and guitarists achieved a posthumous nomination in that category.

The late Robbie Robertson is known for his work with The Band — which in addition to their own acclaimed albums, accompanied Bob Dylan on his 1968 world tour and his 1974 Tour, which included the U.S. and a few Canadian performances.

After leaving The Band, Robertson released a series of albums, including his self-titled debut "Robbie Robertson."

He also began his longtime career working with Scorsese on soundtracks for the acclaimed film director's movies.

One of the many reasons I'd been looking forward to the long-awaited release of "Killers of the Flower Moon" last year was I anticipated Robertson would participate in a new round of interviews in connection with the movie.

Alas, it was not to be.

Robertson spent more than a year writing and recording the soundtrack to "Killers of the Flower Moon."

He was reported to even have attended a wrap party to mark the movie soundtrack's completion.

Not long afterwards, he died on Aug. 9, 2023, in Los Angeles, California, before learning he'd achieved an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for his work on the "Killers of the Flower Moon" soundtrack.

Like Scott George and the Osage Singers, Robertson faces tough competition at the Academy Awards on Sunday night.

Others in the category include John Williams, for "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny."

Also nominated in the Best Original Score category is Ludwig Goransson for "Oppenheimer."

Rounding out the Best Original Score nominees are Laura Karpman for "American Fiction" and Jerskin Fendrix for "Poor Things."

As an indication of how tough the category for Best Original Score is this year, John Williams alone already has garnered 56 Academy Award nominations in his lifetime.

Williams has already won five Academy Awards.

His Academy Award wins began in 1972, for Best Scoring Adaptation and Original Song Score for "Fiddler on the Roof."

He followed with a couple of consecutive Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score in 1975 and 1976, for "Jaws" and "Star Wars," respectively.

Williams won an Oscar again in 1983 for "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and then scored again the following decade in 1994 with an Academy Award for Best Dramatic Score for "Schindler's List."

So yes, Robertson faces some tough odds when his work on "Killers of the Flower Moon" comes up Sunday night during the Academy Award presentations.

He's faced tough odds before though, beginning when he left his native Canada at the age of 16 to head across the American border to the deep south of the U.S., performing then as a member of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks.

He faced tough times when as the electric lead guitarist in Dylan's backing band during Dylan's 1966 world tour, especially in England and Europe. Dylan and other Band members of Dylan's backing group were roundly booed each night, because Dylan, previously known mainly for his acoustic guitar and harmonica performances, dared to play an electric guitar (gasp!) with a full rock band backing him up.

I originally intended to write about what a great exclamation mark to Robertson's work it would be if he should win the Best Original Score category on Sunday night.

But then I decided his work on "Killers of the Flower Moon" speaks for itself, whether or not he proves most popular with the Academy Award voters when the winner of Best Original Score is announced.

The same goes for Scott George and the Osage Singers. As far as I'm concerned, they are already winners even if they are facing the "Barbie" juggernaut, which has two songs nominated in the Best Song category.

Here's congratulations to Scott George and the Osage Singers who look to be on the cusp of a great new beginning.

And here's to Robertson for a fitting cap to his own brilliant career.

Whether or not he is awarded an Oscar for Best Original Score on Sunday night, to me Robbie Robertson's a winner all the way.