Movie Review: 20 Feet From Stardom

20 Feet From Stardom

Thumbs up for Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary film that…”shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century.”

Take Merry Clayton. Doesn’t ring a bell? If you’ve ever cranked up The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and sung along, then you know Clayton — the soulful voice that blends with Mick Jagger’s vocals and brings the song to life. The film includes interviews with both Clayton and Jagger recalling the randomness of the recording session and how the song took shape with Clayton’s contribution.

Twenty Feet From Stardom is filled with stories of unsung talent who contributed to some of Rock’s most memorable songs.

A few highlights include…

  • The hauntingly beautiful voice of Lisa Fischer rehearsing with Sting and her early work with Luther Vandross.
  • Claudia Lennear throwing down the moves on stage as an Ikette with Ike & Tina Turner.
  • Darlene Love singing lead, uncredited, on a series of hit records produced by Phil Spector in the 1960s, including “He’s a Rebel” by The Crystals

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Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names.

Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.

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. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, Twenty Feet From Stardom boasts intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few. However, these world-famous figures take a backseat to the diverse array of backup singers whose lives and stories take center stage in the film.

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