The Oscars are this weekend, nominated in the category for Best Documentary Feature is 20 Feet From Stardom, directed by Morgan Neville and if it doesn’t win I will be hurling abuse at the TV.
For anyone who reckons they can hold a tune, it’s an essential must-watch. I can’t, but the film was so inspiring that I now would dearly love to change careers (I know, last week I wanted to be a make up artist, this week backing singer, flighty? Me?)
The film gets together some of the best backing singers in the music business- nearly all women, nearly all of them over 35 years old, nearly all of them black, all brilliant but all still singing backing. The film drills deep to look at why the amazing voices of Claudia Lennear, Mary Clayton, Darlene Love, Tata Vega (I so loved Tata) and the breathtaking Lisa Fischer never made it to the super-stardom position commanded by the bands they sang for, despite being able to rock a tune better than all of them.
There are interviews with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen and Sting, who also can’t quite understand why the women aren’t as famous as them either. Bruce, bless his socks, almost look embarrassed and I’m not even going to START on what it could teach The X Factor and The Voice competitors!
I saw the film at the newly opened Olympic Cinema in Barnes (ironically it was originally the Olympic Music Studios, where just about everyone from The Rolling Stones to David Bowie recorded) and Claudia Lennear was interviewed live on stage after the show. Claudia started her singing career as one of Ike and Tina Turner’s Ikettes and went on to sing with Joe Cocker and Stephan Stills. Despite being a brilliant singer, she never crossed that 20 feet to the front of the stage. She told great stories and sang for us, which made tear up- she was so good.
Throughout, the women are captivatingly funny, great story tellers, brilliant singers and wise. Go see it, you’ll come out wishing you had a voice and fingers crossed it wins on Sunday night. It’s released in the Uk on March 28th.