Google+

Twenty Feet from Stardom (Documentary Announcement)

TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM’

STAR-STUDDED DOCUMENTARY SHINES LIGHT ON BACKUP SINGERS AND THEIR GOSPEL ROOTS

Millions Know Their Voices, But No One Knows Their Names’

Little wonder the engaging new documentary TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM earned the honor of opening this year’s documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s three films in one.

? a touching, personal portrait of the backup singers to music’s biggest superstars, who displayed their undeniable talent just outside the spotlight.

? a fascinating history of how backup singing morphed from the clipped harmonies laid under the crooners of yesteryear to the emotive, soulful, integral component of modern music.

? an exploration of the church and gospel roots of so many of the backup singers to the stars.

395619_194524034028711_1271112311_n

Backup singers pretty much all started in church choirs and can sing circles around most lead singers,” said Morgan Neville, the award-winning director of TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM. That fact has been commonly known in the Black community for decades, where the church has been seen as a treasure trove of talent, but it’s an ah-ha! for many.

At one point, Neville rapidly cuts from one interview to the next with one talented singer after another responding to the question, “Where did you start singing?” And the answers roll out: “My daddy was a preacher,” “I was a preacher’s kid,” “I sang in church.”

You come up learning what part your voice fits in,” singer Darlene Love said of growing up in the church.

In fact, the trend started with Love and the girl group The Blossoms. Now a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Love and many other African-American backup singers like her started singing in the church choir, were discovered by Southern California record producers and began adding a new dimension of sound to the hits . . . of others.

Producing legend Phil Spector had Love under contract in the early 1960s and while singles by Love and The Blossoms received scant attention, they were the sound behind such hits as Johnny Angel, The Poor Side of Town and Da Doo Ron Ron. Even some hit singles credited to other singers actually featured Love’s vocals.

These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of super-stardom,”

Neville spent years interviewing (sometimes after much detective work to find them) singers who backed up such names as Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bette Midler, and many, many more. The backup singers range from Love to former “Raelette” now preacher Mabel John. And the story gets current as well. Young backup singer Judith Hill is trying to move from the shadows to center stage now and currently is a contestant on The Voice.

Neville did more than talk to backup singers; he discussed them with the stars—Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Sting, to name a few.

It goes back to the church call and response,” Bruce Springsteen said. “There’s that guy out front testifying, and then there’s the community behind, ‘Amen-ing.’ That was the backup sound that came straight out of Gospel and the church and was secularized.”

One singer, TaTa Vega went so far as to play piano in the hallway and sing so Stevie Wonder could hear her. “I heard this girl doing all these (different) riffs,” Wonder said, “and I thought, ‘Is that the same girl?’”

Vega earned her shot at backup singing but never hit the spotlight. As Springsteen said, “It’s a bit of a walk from back by the drummer . . . That walk to the front is complicated.”

For “real musicians, there’s a spiritual component to what they are doing that’s got nothing to do with worldly success,” Sting said. “There’s this idea that you can go on American Idol and suddenly become a star. But you may bypass the spiritual work that you have to do to get there.”

Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices that brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.

RADiUS-TWC releases TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, which opens in New York and Los

Angeles June 14, followed by a nationwide rollout in theaters.

To learn more, visit: Facebook.com/TwentyFeetFromStardom

Entertainment

And the Oscar Goes To…

  And the Oscar Goes To… by Amy Lignor   When it comes to the Oscars, the word “upset” is used almost every year. In at least one category, usually the supporting actor or actress role, there is more often than not a huge surprise when it comes to the winner. However, when you look back at the awards season thus far, it seems that the same names keep coming up again and again, with no upset in sight. What became mostly a surprise … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Books

The President’s Kitchen Cabinet

  The President's Kitchen Cabinet The Story of the African-Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas by Adrian Miller University of North Carolina Press Hardcover, $30.00 292 pages, Illustrated ISBN: 978-1-4696-3253-7 Book Review by Kam Williams “[This opus] vividly tells the stories of the African-Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

The Day After the Day Of

  The Day After the Day Of by Paul Ilechko   The sky sheds its tears. This morning is the morning of the day after. The day of mourning, the day after the day of.  I beseech the sky to shed tears in order to wash away the tears on my face.   This is the first day of the time after. This is the beginning of a new time, the days of pain, the days of sorrow. We are in mourning. The sky looks down and sheds its tears for … [Read More its Good For You...]

Real Estate

History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder

  History Being Sold to the Highest Bidder by Amy Lignor   For the longest time, scientists and archaeologists have been confused and bemused by various discoveries they’ve unearthed that offer little or no explanation as to the who, what, and why of the people who created these things or left them behind. Even now, in 2017, there are discoveries being studied; stories that were once legends now have actual bits of proof being found that … [Read More its Good for You.....]

Lifestyle

Ice Cube in a Mellow Mood!

  Ice Cube    The “Fist Fight” Interview with Kam Williams Ice Cube in a Mellow Mood! Born O'Shea Jackson in Compton, California on June 15, 1969, Renaissance man Ice Cube is an actor, writer, producer, director, rapper, philanthropist and father. N.W.A., the rap group he co-founded with Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Cube made his feature film debut in 1991 in Boyz n … [Read More its Good for You...]

Outdoors

ChatterBaits a Key for Early Season Bass

  ChatterBaits a Key for Early Season Bass When the ChatterBait bladed jig burst onto the scene in 2006, many anglers considered it another ‘flash in the pan’ lure that would quickly slide off the radar, as seems to be so common in the fishing world.  However, over the last ten years, this unique spinner/jig hybrid has carved out a permanent spot in the tackle boxes of most serious bass anglers and has repeatedly been a top producer in … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Looking Forward to the NFL’s “Top” Free Agents

  Looking Forward to the NFL’s “Top” Free Agents by Amy Lignor   Now that the Patriots have (once again) walked away with the Super Bowl title, it is time that the NFL teams focus on the draft and what free agents they need to most definitely keep on their roster. The Pittsburgh Steelers always seem to be on all the “experts” lists to make it to the end and finally get back to the Super Bowl’s main stage. Unfortunately, the Steelers can’t … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Business Industries to Explore in 2017

  Business Industries to Explore in 2017 by Amy Lignor   It’s no surprise that with the popular TV show “Shark Tank” taking over the headlines, promoting small businesses and giving people the chance to ‘make it big,’ that the industry researchers have gotten together a list of the very best opportunities when it comes to starting up companies in 2017. The profits are there, in some categories, just waiting to be made, and most do … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Perfect Vacation Spots in Small Town, USA

  Perfect Vacation Spots in Small Town, USA by Amy Lignor   Yes, big cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, as well as Orlando always rate as being perfect vacation spots to travel to in the U.S. of A. But, oddly enough, small towns are out there littering the road maps that are fun and kooky enough to draw visitors each and every day. Some even have extremely fun names like, Accident, Maryland, Peculiar, MO, and even Ugly, TX. So if … [Read More its Good for You...]

Green Living

Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden

  Creating the Perfect Vegetable Garden by Amy Lignor   Many are still dealing with that wintery mix Mother Nature just loves to toss down from the sky this time of year. Yet, that gardener living inside the soul – the one just dreaming of the sunny skies and lazy rainy days that are must-haves in order to grow the best vegetables possible – is already jotting down the facts, tricks and tips they need to know in order to make that … [Read More its Good for You...]