What would a pop song be without the riffs, refrains, and harmonies of its backup vocalists? Although these singers are usually relegated to the margins, and few, if any, become household names, their work has defined countless songs that remain in our hearts and collective consciousness. Twenty Feet from Stardom juxtaposes interviews with industry legends (Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, and others) and the relative unknowns who support them like Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill as they illuminate the art of melding their own distinct voices with lead vocals and reveal their desires for careers as solo artists.
Twenty Feet from Stardom traces the backup singers’ history—from those Phil Spector–produced pop tunes and soul-inspired British Explosion acts (Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones) of the 1960s, to their reversal of fortune when the recording industry changed in the 1990s, and into today. Filmmaker Morgan Neville’s unprecedented look at the moving personal journeys of these normally uncelebrated artists pays tribute to their indelible role in popular music. - K.Y.
About the Director
Morgan Neville is an award-winning documentary filmmaker specializing in music. He has been nominated for three Grammy Awards for his films Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied, and Johnny Cash’s America. Over the past 18 years, Neville has created films about many of the musicians who have helped shape twentieth-century music. Recent productions include Pearl Jam Twenty (2011); Troubadours, which screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival; Beauty Is Embarrassing (2012); and Crossfire Hurricane (2012).
Cast and Credits
Director: Morgan Neville
Producers: Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers
Associate Producer: Caryn Capotosto
Cinematographers: Graham Willoughby, Nicola Marsh
Editors: Jason Zeldes, Kevin Klauber, Douglas Blush
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