30th Mar2014

20 Feet from Stardom – Film

by timbaros

images-141Who are the backup singers behind some of the most famous faces in the music business? The new documentary 20 Feet From Stardom introduces them to us, and what a very talented group they are.

Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom is a film that puts the backup singers into the spotlight, and deservedly so.
We meet perhaps one of the most famous backup singers of all time – Darlene Love. Love had  a chance to break out from the background to step out as a lead singer but was thwarted by the controlling producer who kept her tied to a long-term contract that she could not get out of. Love, a very happy, full of life woman, has sung behind heavy hitters such as Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, and Sam Cooke and is most famous for being part of record producer Phil Ramone’s ‘Wall of Sound,’ providing lead vocals for many top hits, yet receiving very little or no credit for them. Love wound up being a housekeeper at one point in her life to make ends meet.
Lisa Fischer, also featured, is new to the backup world. With a voice as powerful as Mariah Carey, Fischer, who has toured with the Rolling Stones, is praised in the film by Sting as a backup singer with the potential to break into the the big time. Fischer does have a Grammy for one of her solo albums, yet she is still an unknown outside the music industry.
Puerta Rican Tata Vega was signed by Motown in the 1970’s as a solo artist and released several albums which didn’t sell well, so she never really made it big as a solo artist. She was relegated to the world of backup, where she has remained throughout her career.
Other featured backup singers include Judith Hill, who was booked to backup Michael Jackson on his “This is it” concert, but instead found herself singing at Jackson’s funeral; The Waters family, who have recorded background vocals for Paul Simon, Patti Labelle and Donna Summer; and Merry Clayton, whose voice graces the Rolling Stone’s “Just a Shot Away.”
20 Feet from Stardom is a fascinating and well-done documentary, and no doubt once it’s you will turn to Google to learn more about this talented group of singers.

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