Skip to content

New Music Documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” Reviewed By Ron Wells

June 23, 2013
Sometimes a singer can get very close to stardom, and yet remain a thousand miles away. Or at least a few feet away. The documentary 20 Feet from Stardom by Morgan Neville explores some of the greatest backup singers of all time who, for reasons hard to explain exactly, never got the recognition nor stardom they deserved. With this film, that will change.
The energy and passion of the music in this movie comes through vibrantly loud and clear in almost every frame. Front and center are the singers who are usually hidden in the shadows of the superstars they support. These are primarily, though not exclusively, African-American women who came from church choirs where their fathers were ministers, and who learned to completely and joyously embrace the call and response of the minister and his congregation.
The spotlight here turns and shines on Darlene Love, Mary Clayton, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, Janice Pendarvis and so many more. Love was in the Blossoms, one of the first “girl groups” to take the place of the heretofore predominately white “readers” who acted as backups for such singers as Perry Como and who seemed to be note perfect, but who brought little of the soul the Blossoms added to the songs.
Then the film tracks such groups as the Ikettes who supported Ike and Tina Turner, the Raelettes who were behind Ray Charles, and a myriad of others. Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Bette Midler are among the superstars who comment on the power and beauty of these singers who remained to the side or behind the marquee names.
Neville explores the individual stories of many of the singers and the various reasons that they did not become superstars in their own right. Whether it be the lack of the ego necessary to carry them to the next step, or business concerns which put a halt to their ambitions, the reasons are as diverse and varied as the singers themselves.
Yet, when that spotlight is put on them, it’s impossible not be transfixed by Mary Clayton or Lisa Fischer singing behind or beside Mick Jagger in songs such as “Gimme Shelter,” or listen in amazement as Fischer adds her voice to Sting’s “The Hounds of Winter” that is so mesmerizing it will melt your heart and leave you gazing in wonder.
This is singing as good as anyone you will ever hear, and better than some of the new “superstars” who currently get the accolades. From the first scene to the last, the music and singing  are so stunning they will have you racing home to find the songs on which these singers performed.
20 Feet from Stardom joins Searching for Sugar Man and It Might Get Loud as one of the best music documentaries of the past few years. One thing is certain, you will never again underestimate the grace, beauty and power of backup singers lending their voices to the stars who are center stage. For anyone who has ever had any interest in pop/rock music, especially the music going back 30 to 50 years, this is a must see.  Not everyone can be a superstar, but as these singers prove, not just anyone can be a backup singer either. Listen to Darlene Love sing “Lean on Me.”
The joy, the spirit, the soul which emanates from her and the other singers will have you applauding and begging for more. Just as you would a superstar…..
guest post by Ron Wells
Details: Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film Twenty Feet From Stardom, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.Release Date: June 14, 2013 (limited)
Studio: RADiUS-TWC
Director: Morgan Neville
Starring: Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, Tata Vega, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Bette Midler, Chris Botti
Genre: Documentary
About these ads
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


2015 PCT Thru-hike

Kamala Thompson

Achievement Coach, Startup & Small Biz Consultant, Success, Happiness, Career, Humanity

Laura Grace Weldon

Free Range Learning, Creative Living, Gentle Encouragement, Big Questions, Poetry, Occasional Drollery

From Insults To Respect

A Guide To Anger And Conflict Resolution


Web Business Coach · Client Management Expert · Small Business Advocate · Web Developer

Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

Where our opinions, Burner culture, and Burning Man come together

Traveling Wine Chick

This chick goes all over the world and buys her own drinks!

L'esprit de Vin

A wine blog with food for thought...

The Wine Wankers

Smile :) You’re at the best wine blog ever! Scroll down to read our fun stories, and join our journey as we fight through the wine jargon in search of a good glass of wine. Wine blogs; the best place to read about wine online! We're rated as one of the most influential wine people on the net by Klout and Kred. Contact:

Wine Verbiage

verbiage about wine & life


Follow our 2,650 mile migration from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail

Small Epiphanies


Paul's Therapeutic Reflections

Thoughts about writing about thinking

the drunken cyclist

I have three passions: wine, cycling, travel, family, and math.

Winehiker Witiculture

Hike. Wine. Repeat! An exploration of life's vinoambulocentricities.

Gabrielle Bryden's Blog

poetry, stories, puffnstuff

The Mind - Jigsaw Puzzle

Author : Nandita Prabhu

Calicocoa's KittyBlog

Just another site

New Earth Heartbeat

Aligning with the Heartbeat of the New Earth


These letters are written to remind you just how much you matter, just how important you are, and just how beautiful the gift of life as a human is.


Stay at home mom, lover of wine


Wine, food and life

The Mind's Eye Photo Workshops

Don't just take photos - Make them.

Whole Hog Marvels

Thus, bit by bit, the world is swallow'd


poet, running naked through the wilderness

Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews

Described as "A New Standard for Wine Reviews" by @kermitlynchwine

new mexico storyboards and art to go

storyboards, concept art, murals, backdrops, original art and fakes to go

Fowkes Studios

Studio Pottery

whisper down the write alley

gwendolyn alley, writing coach & college teacher

Paprika & Pinot

an exploration of food and wine


the radiant geometry of language

wine predator

on the prowl for wine, food & adventure est. 2009

art predator

art predator )'( seek to engage the whole soul is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Distracted Astrologer

As above, so bel—oh look, kittens.

Compassionate Rebel

“One who hears the cries of the world”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 384 other followers

%d bloggers like this: