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Friday, 22 November 2013

20 Feet from Stardom


The history of showbiz is littered with stories of talented people left out of the limelight – valiant professionals whose unsung efforts enabled brighter stars to shine. In this excellent documentary, directed by Morgan Neville and produced by the late A&M Records executive Gil Friesen, the spotlight is turned onto background vocalists, or ‘backup singers’ – the artists whose voices we’ve all heard, bringing life to the hits, but whose faces we’ve never seen.

Those faces, it turns out, are mostly female and mostly black. The daughters of preachers and churchgoers, these women learnt their trade harmonising in choirs and singing Baptist hymns, where the focus was on ‘the blend’ – the joining of many individual voices into a sweet-sounding whole. This mysterious merging is effectively illustrated in the film by a scene featuring the synchronised patterns created by a flock of black birds swooping in unison through a blue sky.
Read the full review by Rochelle Siemienowicz here at SBS Film online.

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