Lower East Side
350 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002
F, J, M, Z to Delancey Street-Essex Street; B, D, Q to Grand Street
|10:30PM||Live Performance by Darlene Love|
|11:00PM||After-Party at Fontana’s (105 Eldridge St. @ Grand) courtesy of Red Stripe|
Twenty Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville | USA | 90 min.)
In pop music the background singer is both an unseen presence and a very much on-display performer. Often uncredited on recordings and on stage, she stands just outside of the spotlight, singing her heart out, often clad in a brief outfit. Twenty Feet From Stardom traces the history of the pop background singer, starting with the Phil Spector girl groups of the 1960’s, touching upon their roles in the work of artists like Lou Reed and the Talking Heads, and bringing to light their presence in the pop music of today. In this way the documentary is a revelation, showing how race and the musical traditions of gospel influenced rock history and contemporary popular music. Darlene Love's struggle from the depths of obscurity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may be a tale that is known to many people, but her story is only the tip of the iceberg.
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 superstardom. Through intimate interviews, filmmaker Morgan Neville explores how and why, despite heartbreaking effort and tremendous talent, these performers languished in obscurity. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, Twenty Feet From Stardom boasts intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few. But these world-famous figures take a backseat to the diverse array of backup singers whose lives and stories take center stage in the film. Merry Clayton, who launched her career with Ray Charles, is furious in the most charming way as she tells of her struggle for recognition. Claudia Linnear, one of the Ike and Tina "Ikettes," is sweet and coy about her place in music history, but powerful performance footage belies her humble demeanor. Judith Hill, a young singer on the verge of a solo career struggles as her artistic goals are put at odds with her love of performing.
Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, Twenty Feet From Stardom is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.
- Sarah Feuquay