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20 Feet From Stardom

20 FEET FROM STARDOM Shines a spotlight on the untold true stories of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names.

Director: Morgan Neville
Year: 2013
Time: 91 min

 Twenty Feet from Stardom
(2013) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share this film with others, give them the chance to learn about the fascinating stories of these talented vocalists.

Support these vocalists who are continuing to perform in concert tours and recording their own music.

Pick up a musical instrument or revive an artistic passion that you’ve neglected.

Get involved in your local music community. Teach music, learn music, or simply share your musical interests with others and enjoy music in a shared environment.

Related Articles and Resources


Longtime A&M Records President Gil Friesen worked on the film until his dying day in 2012. It went on to win the Oscar in 2014.

“He was making a film from his hospital room while dying of leukemia,” said Friesen’s longtime friend and former employee, Jim Guerinot. In fact, the film came together in part because of Friesen’s illness.

Los Angeles Times has the full story.

Darlene Love at the Oscars Mic

After 20 FEET FROM STARDOM won the Oscar for Best Documentary, Darlene Love stepped up to the mic and belted out the gospel hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”

Watch it on New York Magazine’s Vulture.

Mick Jagger Bringing 20 FEET FROM STARDOM to TV and Broadway

Read the Rolling Stone article.

The Voice Behind Mick (And Others)

“Despite their second-class status—at least as determined by the business and societal expectations—a good backup singer has skills that a solo artist typically does not. They have to put their egos aside, instantly meshing their identities with the other background performers on the line. Remaining pliable is crucial.”

Read more on the New York Times.


Listen to our playlist with music from the film on Spotify.

Daily Beast Interview: Judith Hill, Darlene Love, and Lisa Fischer

“There are different ways to be heard. Sometimes I wish I was I there in the era of radio, where it doesn’t matter what I looked like. The people would just hear the sound. It was a tenderer time.”

Read the full interview here.

The Tough, Unanswered Questions About Backup Singers

While the film showcases an oft-ignored part of the music industry, it still minimizing issues of race and gender, reports The Atlantic.

“It’s supposed to be giving credit to the barely credited, but it plays more like an homage to the celebrities, a classically American story of successful individualism, full of rhetoric that enables easy exploitation.”

“I didn’t come to sing — I came to sang!”

Merry Clayton and Tata Vega took center stage at an intimate soiree celebrating the success of Morgan Neville’s Oscar-nominated documentary, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM.

Watch their two amazing performances here.

Interview: Lisa Fischer

Read an insightful interview with Lisa Fischer and watch a clip of Lisa and Tina Turner performing “I know it’s only rock and roll.”


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