Friday, June 28, 2013
And I would have pursued this dream too, if it weren't for one thing - I can't sing. I mean, I can carry a tune, but believe me, there's nobody asking me to belt out a number. I know other people who also think being a backup singer for famous singers and musicians would be a dream come true - so it's odd that Twenty Feet From Stardom, a documentary by Morgan Neville, decided to show the disappointments and dissatisfaction that comes from being in the background rather than center stage.
The idea for this doc came from former president of A&M records Gil Friesen, who suggested it to Morgan Neville for his next project. Neville said when he began researching the world of backup singers he found very little information, movies, articles etc on the subject and wound up interviewing over 50 different singers of varying ages, race and musical backgrounds. And I think in light of this, the subject deserves a second pass with this wider spectrum in mind. Don't get me wrong, I really liked 20 Feet From Stardom, it's rich with history and music. It's got great interviews with Stevie Wonder, Sting, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Lou Adler and Mick Jagger. However, the movie's main focus is on just 6 ladies of color - Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Táta Vega, Judith Hill and Claudia Lennear. All of which had varying degrees of success over the years, but ultimately never got to be the chart topping, solo artist they dreamed of being.
Although success could still be on the horizon for Judith Hill, the young woman everyone was talking about after Michael Jackson's funeral and posthumous documentary "This is It". She was also a contestant on this past season of The Voice. She's exotic and extremely talented, hopefully she'll find that one song to catapult her onto the charts. If she does, I believe she has the voice and love of the industry to have staying power. But I gotta say, the true star of 20 Feet From Stardom is Darlene Love. Her voice is almost as powerful today as it was almost 50 years ago and her accounts of the music industry are a tad more compelling than the other ladies featured.
In the sixties, Darlene Love sang lead on a string of Phil Spector-produced hits including
“He’s a Rebel”, “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah”, “(Today I Met) The Boy I’m Gonna Marry”, “Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home”, “Why Do Lovers Break Each Other’s Hearts?” and the seasonal classic “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home”. In addition, she sang background vocals on numerous other Spector produced hits including the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby”, the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ and Tina Turner’s “River Deep Mountain High” READ MORE
Well, I'm sorry some of these ladies experiences were dampened just a bit by the bite of that fame bug. But I still say, put me in a shimmering, revealing outfit, stand me behind a microphone with 2 or 3 other singers, somewhere stage left or right and I'd be in need of nothing more.
LAMB Score: 3 out of 5
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