'Twenty Feet From Stardom' Traces The Uncelebrated Backup Singers' History Through The Present-Day

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by Tambay A. Obenson
December 19, 2012 6:16 PM
4 Comments
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Still from "Twenty Feet From Stardom"

What a great idea for a documentary - one that I'd love to check out. 

Aptly titled Twenty Feet From Stardom, here's how it's described by the Sundance Film Festival, where it's set to make its debut next month:

What would a pop song be without the riffs, refrains, and harmonies of its backup vocalists? Although these singers are usually relegated to the margins, and few, if any, become household names, their work has defined countless songs that remain in our hearts and collective consciousness. Twenty Feet from Stardom juxtaposes interviews with industry legends (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and others) and the relative unknowns who support them like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill as they illuminate the art of melding their own distinct voices with lead vocals and reveal their desires for careers as solo artists. Twenty Feet from Stardom traces the backup singers’ history—from those Phil Spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired British Explosion acts (Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today.

The film, directed by Morgan Neville, promises an unprecedented look at the personal journeys of these normally UNcelebrated, although indispensable artists, and pays tribute to their unforgettable role in popular music.

No trailer for the film yet, except the still photo at the top of this post.

A film to keep an eye on...

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4 Comments

  • Stu | January 10, 2013 4:30 PMReply

    Check out the backup singers in "Standing in the Shadows of Motown".

    Background Vocalists
    CARLA BENSON
    KEITH BENSON
    JOHN INGRAM
    MISTY LOVE
    CHEROKEE PREE
    DELBERT NELSON
    Additional Background Vocalists
    DAWN BLANDFORD
    KIZZY JESTER
    THE IDMR DETROIT CHOIR

  • Carlos Alomar | December 28, 2012 12:25 PMReply

    Don't forget Robin Clark, Who has sung with David Bowie, Luther Vandross, Chic, Simple Minds and many, many more.

  • Steven | December 20, 2012 9:56 PMReply

    Don't forget Nicki Richards! http://www.nickirichards.com/

  • Whitney | December 19, 2012 8:15 PMReply

    I love this idea. In this digital age, background singers on records is like a lost art. One of my favorite vocalists of all time, Lisa Fischer, has made her livelihood singing background. Judith Hill was set to sing with MJ on his "This Is It" concert. Who can forget voices like Lorenz Tate, Kelly Price and Debra Killings singing for some of pop and R&B's biggest acts of the '90s, or Cissy Houston and Deniece Williams in the '60s and '70s?

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