20 Feet from Stardom

2016 At the movies July 2016

By Suzanne A. Marshall from the July 2016 Edition

Starring: Lisa Fischer, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton,  Judith  Hill,  Mick  Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Tata Vega, Stevie

Wonder, Sting, and on and on and on……..

Director: Morgan Neville

“Filmmaker Morgan Neville shines a long overdue spotlight on the hit-making contributions of longtime backup singers like Darlene Love and Merry Clayton.”

I loved this documentary/history/music production so much I’ve watched it twice and would be willing to do so again.

If we harken back to the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and remember the songs that we ‘mature’ listeners sang and danced to, you’ll remember all the rich vocal sounds of the artists and groups of those times. Have you ever caught yourself humming or singing along to the backup lyrics or improvised rhythms in the backgrounds of a song?

(“da do ron ron ron da do ron ron?”) Well that was them, the backup vocalists!

This documentary showcases just how talented and important they were to those times. In fact there were songs on the hit parades, by such vocalists as Darlene Love, that were released under a group name and never gave her the recognition she justly deserved. This was not unusual in those days. Even more mind boggling is the fact that they were largely untrained musically and simply sang from their hearts and souls, many of which had honed their harmony skills while singing in church.

To hear such artists as Chris Botti, Stevie Wonder, Sting and Bruce Springsteen talk in the interviews they all agreed upon the importance of these singers (and dancers) to the success of their tours and recordings. They consider them stars for which a number of them deserved much more fame than fortune allowed them. This is an excellent and totally entertaining look from this perspective and I highly recommend people watch it.

20 Feet from Stardom won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2014. It won numerous other industry awards and captured other nominations as well.

IMDB has rated this movie at 7.4/10. I’d personally give it a 9/10 at least.

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