Friday, April 18, 2014

MUST WATCH FRIDAY: 20 Feet From Stardom

Harlequin KISS/Modern Tempted author Heidi Rice gets behind a great little documentary with a big-hearted message.

A few weeks ago I was in Dublin for a night out with my best mate and we were trying to decide what film to go and see, when we noticed a little music documentary about background singers from the 60s-70s-80s-90s and noughties. We're both soul rebels at heart so the promise of some great voices was enough for us, what we didn't realise is that this is a movie about much, much more than just music.

It's about women with amazing voices but also amazing stories to tell. Stories of hard work, perseverence, constant disappointment, huge talent and cruel setbacks, but the determination to remain strong. It's a story about life really and all those little (and large) things it sticks in your way to stop you achieving your dreams, but most of all (and here's the big inspirational message) it's about how you can still make those dreams count... Even if you may never win the big prize, because sometimes the journey (and the enjoyment in the journey) is enough! Especially if you can sing like an angel.

There's sanguine and justifiably awed commentary from the likes of Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Stevie Wonder - all paying tribute to astonishing singers such as Darlene Love, Tata Vega, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer. And about time too, because when you hear these women sing, you'll realise what a huge part they've played in making  these men look good on stage (and on their hit records). But ultimately the big draw of this movie is hearing the women themselves, and finding out how they've stayed true to the music even when what they do has been consistently undervalued - or deliberately erased.

Darlene Love's story is perhaps the most agonising and yet the most uplifting. The 'actual' voice behind the Crystals hit Christmas Baby Please Come Home, Love ended up cleaning houses to make ends meet... Until she heard the hit on the radio one afternoon while cleaning a woman's toilet and knew that she had to get back to what she loved. Now in her seventies, she's finally getting all the attention she deserves (and should have had long ago)... And then there's Merry Clayton and her awe-inspiring, send-shivers-down-your-spine singing on The Stones Gimme Shelter. Clayton's short-lived career as a solo singer faltered because... Why? Who knows? You'll be hard-pressed to figure it out when you hear her sing, and think of all those auto-tuned, talent-show micro-celebrities that rack up hit records these days thanks to some nifty packaging by the likes of Simon Cowell... Or Lisa Fischer who had her moment in the spotlight in the eighties, and somehow lost it, by not being tough enough or ambitious enough (or fast enough producing her second album) but can still blow an audience away and is happy in herself with what she has achieved... A lifelong career in a business that happily sucks people up and spits them out without pausing for breath.

Go see this movie, the music is awesome, but the stories are more so. It's an education, not just in life (and the music industry), but in holding on to your dreams.

Heidi is currently working on her 2nd Cosmo Red Hot Read. Her latest Harlequin KISS/Modern Tempted Beach Bar Baby is out now in the US & the UK. come have a natter on her blog, her website, FB or Twitter (@HeidiRomRice).

No comments:

Post a Comment