Saturday, 5 April 2014

"20 Feet From Stardom" at the Brixton Ritzy

Last week we went to see '20 Feet From Stardom' the new documentary about backing singers. It's only about a few really, mainly Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer with a few nods to a few other singers. We get to see and hear other singers of course, but it's these three at the centre.

We hear all sorts of tales during the film, how Darlene Love sang two songs for release as singles that she subsequently heard on the radio attributed to The Crystals and that Merry Clayton sang her amazing vocals on 'Gimme Shelter' by the Rolling Stones in her pyjamas in the middle of the night.

The story I was most touched by was Lisa Fischer who started out as a backing singer, made the big time with an award-winning album before going back to singing with others, regularly with Luther Vandross and on every Rolling Stones tour since 1989. She tasted the big time and decided it wasn't for her. She has a beautiful and versatile voice but is happy to be in the background, stepping forward into the spotlight for a song or two before heading back and making other people sound good. It's a touching story of someone who knows what she wants and is content with where she is in life.

The film won an Oscar last year and seems to have universally rave reviews. I wouldn't say it was all that but it's a nice way to spend a couple of hours and see the ambition of some and the contentedness of others.

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