I recently watched Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom and cannot stop raving about it. It’s hard for me to put into words exactly how this film affected me. It’s very powerful to watch for anyone who’s chasing their dreams, no matter what they may be.
20 Feet from Stardom tells the untold stories of the people behind the microphones and behind the scenes: back-up singers. The film’s website says “meet the unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time,” and these singers are the true stars of the movie. This documentary also features some legendary musicians, including Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger, and Stevie Wonder. If you have a love of music, watch this movie.
Learning the history behind some of the most iconic songs ever written absolutely blew my mind (Sweet Home Alabama, music from The Lion King, to name a few). One scene/story that hit me was that of Gimme Shelter and hearing the a cappella cut of Merry Clayton singing. It will give you chills. And of course, the incomparable Darlene Love is also in this film.
One singer who really struck me was the Grammy award-winning singer Lisa Fischer. Between her incredible talent, her humbleness, and her story, it’s impossible not to fall in love with her. Her responding to my tweet also shows how great she is.
The end of the film featured a song called Desperation written and performed by Judith Hill, another singer featured in the film. It’s a beautiful song, and one certainly worth listening to.
It was, for lack of a better word, inspirational to hear some of the most incredible voices in the business speak not only of the struggle of making it big, but also speaking of the pure joy of singing. Lisa described singing as if “you’re a little feather and someone blows, and you just go. You just go and you never fall.” Sheryl Crow stated that “there’s no more heavenly instrument than the voice,” and I couldn’t agree more. Singing is one of the rawest and honest forms of self-expression we can ever experience.
There is a certain joy when it comes to singing a song, and being able to put your whole heart and soul into it. Listening to the singers in this film and hearing their struggles truly makes you appreciate their gift and music in general so much more. I think Stevie Wonder summed it up best when he said “It’s up to to you to perfect that gift that you’ve been given. Put your spirit into that song, focus on the words that you are singing. Get into the experience that you are singing about and sing your heart out.”
Next time you’re in search of a movie to watch, check out 20 Feet from Stardom, you won’t regret it. Check out the trailer below!
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