20 feet from stardom
Love, like JoJo, was locked into an inescapable recording contract for years.
During our telephone interview, the Grammy Award-winning performer showed significant introspection talking about her work with everyone from The Rolling Stones to Tina Turner. Her gears were nearly audible as we discussed 20 Feet from Stardom, the Oscar-nominated documentary showcasing Fischer and others who've made careers of singing backup for music industry giants.
If I'm choosing between two movies and both are entertaining and informative, but one is clearly out to change the world, I do find myself favoring the world-changer. That comes into play this year for me, though it may not for you.
Though I didn't notice while culling my list down to just ten, nine of the movies that made my cut come from women filmmakers, which makes me exceedingly happy.
It's the time of year when critics release their lists of the year's best films. It feels like a competitive sport -- or a provocation, which all of these lists are, by nature. As in: "This is my list of the best films. If you don't agree, you're wrong."
Christmas came early this year. First there was the gift of the documentary "20 Feet from Stardom," now shortlisted for the
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"If we had the opportunity to play together, it seemed like there would be a lot of possibilities. The way they approached playing the songs, whether they were old or new, and each time I went to the show, it was a different agenda."
Most of all, the film shows -- with the help of reverential testimony from Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder and Sting -- how backup singers, most of them black women, gave pop music its soul. And thereby hangs a tale.
Either the title of the documentary Muscle Shoals resonates with you -- in which case it resonates hard -- or you have no idea what it means. But you should -- or you should find out by watching the movie, one of the year's most entertaining and enriching nonfiction films.
My search for Ms. Lennear commenced long before Neville's long overdue film -- which depicts the dramatic plights of rock's most hallowed back-up singers -- hit a theater near you.