Yes, for every star there are five more also-rans and maybe-next-times. But there is honor and glory in being part of the blend. And, at the film's midpoint, when Clayton talks about the late-night recording session in 1969 of "Gimme Shelter," the memory takes on the glow of myth.
This fascinating documentary focuses on the singing careers of 4 or 5 fabulous African American backup singers. Most of them started in the 1960s and were backup singers on some of the most famous records of all time. In a couple of instances, they even sang the lead on some hits but the credit was given to other singers who did not sing on the record at all. These women are legendary within the music industry and certainly have the talent to be stars, but why haven't they? The documentary tries to answer this question by interviewing big named stars that have used these ladies on their own records over the years. The film features a lot of great music, and it makes you think about how many extremely talented people there are in the music industry and yet never become stars, and yet many of the pop stars of today can't sing at all and have to lip sync when they perform. Highly recommended.
This Oscar winning documentary is both engrossing and fun highlighting as it does the careers and importance of some of the most famous backing singers in the business. Interviews with the likes of Bette Midler, Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen are full of praise for what the likes of Darlene Love, Tata Vega and Lisa Fischer (amongst others) have contributed to the major bands and pop stars over the years. These afore mentioned backing artists, and others, share with us their frustrations, disappointments and the love for what they do. And let's not forget their talent. In many instances they are vocally superior to many of the lead entertainers that they support. However, as Sting so concisely puts it, 'It's not always about the talent'. Circumstances, opportunity and a little bit of luck can play an enormously important part in the transition from background to foreground to star!
Sometimes it's racism; sometimes bum luck; sometimes it's producer Phil Spector putting Love's voice in another singer's mouth. You watch. You hear the gospel spoken in the voices of these women. And you marvel.
It does what the most powerful films and music have always done, which is to spark contemplation of our own lives and choices, and our place in the world, while also stoking compassion and empathy for lives far removed from our own.
I am not that aware of the artists from the old days, but I recognize them by some of hit tracks I know. Since I don't know much about the musics of before 80s, I just enjoyed the stories they told in this documentary. This movie is about the back-up singers and their's life with achievements and struggles.
I had no intention of watching this music-documentary film if it was not nominated for the American Academy Awards. And I am surprised the tale they told about what they went through in their life and everything. Particularly a line one of them say as like 'in entertainment business nothing is guaranteed', so true. I have heard about film celebrities who lost everything within, just like that. So I think it is a good movie for young people to study about what to do and what not to do if they choose this same field as their profession.
Some of them who attempted solo tell their sudden fall before the career taking off. From their perspective, it was heartbreaking because they were awesome. In fact, most of them were better that the lead singers and had an incredible voice. Then those times ethics of the music world were different than now. Those who attempt risk will terribly fail, sometime it put them into the edge of their career.
One of the sidekick singer says in her interview that she worked as a house maid. She did it just to survive in the world after losing the job. It was a sad but true story of the unsung heroes of the past. It was not a must see, like any documentary movie this one unwraps the untold secrets of the unknown true stars.
This doc looks at the women who sing backup for rock and soul acts. There are profiles of some of the greats (Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer) and interviews with lots of women who've joined them. A few rock stars (Springsteen, Jagger, Sting) offer their comments. It's fascinating to learn about the history and influence of these amazing vocalists. It's fun to hear them riff effortlessly and reminisce about the past. When the focus turns to their failed attempts at moving to the front of the stage, the energy turns dark and drags on too long. Still, it's remarkable to get the chance to appreciate what these amazing women can do.
A fascinating documentary focussing on a group of backing singers who were ubiquitous in the 60's and 70's on some of the biggest tracks of all times. An interesting look at why these powerhouse singers were always in the background and never made it big in their own right it could have been improved by widening its scope somewhat.
Another music industry-related feature-length documentary Oscar winner, after last years’ SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012, 7/10), 20 FEET FROM **** homes in on back singers, from the esteemed Darlene Love, a recent Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame recipient; Lisa Fischer, the diva of the line of work, a Grammy winner for her only studio album in 1992; to lesser known veterans like Merry Clayton, Táta Vega, Claudia Lennear, The Waters, till up-and-coming young blood, spearheaded by Judith Hill who is still striving for her breakthrough as a solo artist, a THE VOICE contender last year, her debut album is in the offing.
read rest of my review at my blog, google cinema omnivore.
I didn't see 20 FEET FROM **** in the theater because I thought it would be just a lame VH-1 type doc. And guess what, it is! I finally saw it because it has such Oscar buzz. It's a pretty lame unfocused mess. Nice to see so many talented "background" singers but the film can't contain itself when it comes to fame and the big time. So lame. These women deserve to be celebrated for what they brought to music. The film does but then it veers all over the place. Just a big nothing.