20 Feet From Stardom
Documentarian Morgan Neville's entertaining film 20 Feet From Stardom artfully describes the lives and loves, successes and failures of about a dozen women, mostly women of color, whose voices as background singers have enhanced (in some in...stances immeasurably) hundreds of pop, rock and soul recordings since the early '60s. Among them Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer. All of these women are gifted vocalists whose stories and backgrounds differ quite a bit, but whose musical heritage can be traced to black churches. Many of the performers and music historians tell Neville that the spirited interactions among choir members and soloists was the key to the background singers' success on the stage and in the studio. And yet, these women's dreams of individual stardom have nearly to a person been deferred -- some by circumstances and some by chicanery. The story of Phil Spector's treatment of Darlene Love is especially infuriating. The film is blessedly free of rancor; it's actually more of a celebration. Though the stories of these women's lives is inspiring, it's the music that makes this wonderful film such a resounding treat. Highly Recommended.