20 Feet From Stardom is an awesome documentary about backup singers and their trials and tribulations.
It has some awesome interviews, awesome footage, and, well, if you needed to think Phil Spector was any more of a bastard than you already thought, this film will provide you with a different kind of rage.
There are amazing performances. While it’s not exclusively about backup singers who are either women or people of color, the film focuses on the careers of six women of color. The youngest of the six is Judith Hill.
It’s this kind of movie that makes me really sad that I never really figured out what I wanted out of a musical career back when I was a teenager and in my early 20s. I never had a clearly-enough defined goal that I had something to aim for. Plus, I loved rock music and played (mostly) alto sax, but wanted to sing, and it just seemed all too confusing — like I had the wrong skill set.
In high school, I was in band (alto sax), marching band (alto sax and piccolo), orchestra (viola and oboe), dance band (baritone sax), and choir (first soprano) at the same time. I studied sound recording (audio and film) in college.
Despite a phone call with the man, one of my greatest life regrets (of which I have a handful) is not taking up Malcolm McLaren’s offer of an audition when he was trying to put a band together. I don’t think I would have gotten the gig, but I’ve always regretting not having the nerve to fly to London and have a go at it.
A couple of years later, I was offered a gig as a motion picture sound intern on a friend’s project, and I turned down a gig (a sure thing) to go to France to work on the film.
Those of you who know me will say, “Wait, Deirdre, that doesn’t sound like you at all.” Yes. That’s true. Regret changes you.
Each of the amazing women in this film have had victories and setbacks, and they’re interesting to hear about. Highly recommended.