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Terry's Take

Movie Review: 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

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20 FEET FROM STARDOM focuses on the nearly anonymous African American women who sing backup for some of  the biggest stars in the music business.
        
It's a  creative and crowd pleasing documentary that showcases some very talented people you've probably never heard of before.

Lisa Fischer has been singing on stage with the Rolling Stones since 1989, and she's even won a Grammy for her one solo album, but I never knew her name until I saw 20 FEET FROM STARDOM.

Here's what Morgan Neville (the director of the film) said when his movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival: "What I kind of imagined was that backup singers may not have a lot of character to their voices, and that's why they're backup singers. That's not true. And maybe they're not as good--that's why they're backup singers. That's not true. The fact is backup singers can blow away lead singers any day of the week, every day of the week."

Darlene Love, the only one of these backup singers to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, sang on more top forty songs than anyone else in the 1960's.

Darlene: "My life has been about trying to make a success of the gift that I have."

But in spite of her talent she had some very tough times.

Darlene: "It got so bad I started cleaning houses. And I just looked up and said, you should be singing."

Judith Hill who performed duets with Michael Jackson, is a young backup singer who  hopes to achieve a stardom of her own. Judith: "When you're a backup singer, it is a springboard, but it can easily become quicksand if that's not what you wanna do."

Merry Clayton: "I felt if I just gave my heart to what I was doing, I'd automatically be a star."

But sadly, that's not the way the world works. These unheralded women may be as good as the stars they support, but it took a movie like this one to give them the recognition they deserve.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.