Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.
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Jean François Heckel,
The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Whereas SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN was one of the best films of 2012, this year has another musical documentary that turns out to be a masterpiece. Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Lou Adler, Sheryl Crow, Bette Midler and Mick Jagger are just a few of the well-known singers who talk about some back-up singers who everyone will know from certain hit songs yet it's highly unlikely that you'll know their names. Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega and Judith Hill get their shot in the spotlight as they talk about why they are highly respected inside the business yet they never managed to become "stars" or lead singers on their own. Some of their reasons include them not wanting to but there are some darker ones dealing with race as well as Phil Spector simply hiding one from being famous. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM is a masterpiece in regards to music documentaries and it ranks right up there with some of the greatest ever made. It was rather amazing sitting back and hearing these stories and when you realize some of the music that these women have been involved with you certainly see why so many sing their praises. This includes Clayton who was pregnant and wearing rollers in her hair when she got a phone call in the middle of the night to help The Rolling Stones with what would become the chorus for Gimme Shelter. The film is full of wonderful and touching stories dealing with either high praise or simply hard luck. The fact that so many great songs are so memorable because of something that background singers are doing is a subject that seems to be long overdue. This film certainly makes it a very fascinating subject and it makes you wonder how many others are out there just waiting to get some credit that they deserve. The film features some terrific music from all of the artists mentioned so music fans will have a blast hearing songs from the 50s up through the 90s. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM is certainly one of the best films of 2013.
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