Their voices are powerful enough to tear you apart and put you back together again, and their stories will do the same. But when you call them backup singers, you better smile. That’s because the performers in the infectious and irresistible Twenty Feet From Stardom are willing and able to outsing any solo act in sight and are not shy about letting you know it.
Veteran director Morgan Neville (Troubadours) has made a moving and joyous behind-the-scenes documentary about a world filled with big, bold personalities and the music they make. Neville interviewed more than 50 people for this film, including major stars like Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and Sting, but the people you remember turn out to be the handful of women who made and remade the backup world in their image.
Though Twenty Feet talks to singers whose solo careers faltered, in some ways the film’s most memorable singer is a woman who made the break and then went back. That would be the prodigiously gifted Lisa Fischer, who won a Grammy for one of the songs on her debut album but decided she didn’t have the kind of ego necessary for a solo career. For her, background singing seems to function as a kind of higher calling, and the grace of Twenty Feet From Stardom is that it allows you to see why.
‘It’s hard to imagine another documentary this year that will be as uplifting, entertaining and moving as Morgan Neville’s 20 Feet From Stardom’
‘90 minutes of pure satisfaction’