Saturday, July 20, 2013

20 Feet from Stardom (Rhoades)

“20 Feet From Stardom”
Looks at Backup Singers

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

You may not recognize the name, but Darlene Love has performed with Cher, U2, and Michelle Phillips of Mama and the Papas. She’s a backup singer. And she’s even been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“20 Feet From Stardom” is a documentary that looks at these unsung backup singers. It’s currently making music at the Tropic Cinema.
In addition to Darlene Love, you’ll meet Judith Hill, Merry Layton, and Lisa Fischer, among others.
And you’ll hear from the likes of Mick Jagger, Sheryl Crow, Bette Midler, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Stevie wonder.
Directed by veteran documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville, you’ll meet the singers who make other singers sound good. Neville has been nominated for three Grammys for his music films: “Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story,” “Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied,” and “Johnny Cash’s America.” He won an Emmy for “Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues.” And his film “Troubadours,” with James Taylor and Carole King, premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Producer Gil Friesen was a long time music industry executive (27 years with A&M, 13 as president). He was curious to learn more about the lives of background singers, so he put this documentary together with Caitrin Rogers.
“These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of superstardom,” says Friesen.
As the movie trailer tells us, Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names.

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