Now comes a brand new music documentary which seems to be taking a similar path, and who knows, may even find itself in amongst the competitiors for next year's Oscars. The film is called 'Twenty Feet From Stardom' and looks at the world of the unsung heroes of the music business, namely the background singers whose job it is to support the main vocalist. Like 'Searching For Sugar Man', this film opened the Sundance Festival back on 17th January 2013 and through the very positive audience reaction it garnered, within two days had secured a major distribution deal. The idea for the movie originated from record executive Gil Friesen, the film's producer, who wondered what were the stories behind these singers who obviously had to be very good at what they did to get hired, yet stay in the back while the lead singers were allowed to shine up front and centre. He approached film maker Morgan Neville (who had previously produced/directed music documentaries on The Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, Carole King, James Taylor and Elton John & Leon Russell) to direct the project.
The common thread which seems to run with all of these performers is musical training in church, leading on to session work as their introduction into the music business followed by attempts to become solo artists. As we all know, sometimes things don't always go to plan, anbd I believe it is these stories along with the interaction between the ladies that may make this documentary special. Several high profile music folk show up to give their take on this phenomenon known as the backing singer, including Patti Austin, Sheryl Crowe, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Stevie Wonder, plus there is the added bonus of archive footage of legends Ray Charles, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson. I have yet to see 'Twenty Feet From Stardom', but the word I have been hearing is real music fans will thoroughly enjoy this documentary. The overall positive buzz is overwhelming. US audiences will get a chance to see it from 14th June 2013. Hopefully it will not be too long before it makes it's way to the UK.
Along with the official trailer, I have included a wonderful 10 minute interview given by director Morgan Neville, along with singers Merry Clayton and Darlene Love at the Sundance Festival about 'Twenty Feet From Stardom':