20 Feet From Stardom

Morgan Neville + 20 Feet From Stardom
Monday, June 17 th, 2019 at 00:06 am Dr. Joy Browne
Director (s):
Morgan Neville
Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Darlene Love
Music, Backup Singers, Stardom, Dreams

20 Feet From Stardom is a terrific documentary about backup singers, specifically African American backup singers, the most prominent of which is Darlene Love, which is probably the name you’d know the best. It’s really wonderful. I saw it just before I saw Motown, so it was a great primer for it. They show a clip at the beginning of Perry Como singing with some white backup singers, and they said that basically all they were supposed to do was stand still and harmonize a little bit. Then all of a sudden the black women burst on the scene and they moved and they sung and they improvised, and they were a force of nature. It not only changed backup singers, but it changed music and perceptions. In some way music is always a revolutionary art form, as people who dislike rap will tell you. You get to meet some pretty famous dudes like Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger talking about backup singers and the role they play, and what it means to be a backup singer and not the lead singer, and is this a choice or something you’re forced into. They deal with a whole lot of different women, and it’s interesting that the stars are all men and the backup singers are all women. It’s a fascinating documentary about all sorts of things, not the least of which is backup singers. Four and a half stars.

Joy Meter