20 Feet From Stardom

Watched 20 Feet From Stardom last night. I don’t want to be one of those “spoilers”, so for those of you who haven’t seen the documentary, I’m going to be somewhat vague in this post.

First off, it’s a really good documentary. Lots of insights into the world of professional background singing and the music industry in general. And probably more importantly, the film looks deeply into the human, emotional challenges of playing a supporting role. There’s also some thoughtful comments from established artists like Sting, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Bette Midler.

Many of the background singers showcased in this documentary have strong ties to gospel music. Their early musical training in the church clearly worked wonders as many of the singers could (and can) move easily between a wide variety of genres. What was interesting in the documentary was how many of the background singers had not only the ability sing in a supporting role, but could just as easily step out and take the lead.

And this is what 20 Feet From Stardom is really all about. Why does one artist become a “star” and another ends up cleaning houses for a living. Or teaching Spanish. Or singing background. The film touches on a variety of reasons and I think they’re mostly spot on. Some singers get sideswiped by business. It’s no secret that the music industry has its fair share of weasels. Some singers don’t have that centre of attention, look at me thing. And some singers don’t have a distinct point of view. They like blending with other singers and a band and are happy in that role.

20 Feet From Stardom is a good film. Go and check it out!

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