As you may or may not know, I have an obsession with music. My friend Steph knew this for sure, and invited me to see a doc with her a few days ago, sending me the description link and simply saying it was about music. I never read said description, but agreed to go nonetheless.
What a great decision.
These are the stories of a handful of singers that you have probably never head of. They are the background singers for some of the biggest icons you've ever heard of, including Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Sting, Ray Charles, and Michael Jackson. If you've ever heard the 'la la las' in the background music, that's them. If you've ever caught yourself singing along with the main hook of the song, as the singer goes off improvising up the scales, you're actually singing to the parts that these folks made famous.
The stories are broken up, but flawlessly seamed together. The likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear, Lisa Fischer, and Tata Vega tell us all about how they came up into the business and their times in it. Some tried to have solo, break-out stardom, and some have just been happy as pie to stand in the back and sing so many sweet songs. In fact, these ladies have become some of the most sought-after singers in the industry, never without a day of work in the studio.
Morgan Neville does an amazing job putting this story together. Not once did I feel removed from the 'action,' so-to-speak, of the stories, even though they were intertwined and changing up every 5-10 minutes. The interviews were so real, to a point that you felt like someone, even as big as Stevie Wonder, was talking directly to you, not a camera. Folks really opened up and reminisced, and the emotions were real.
The whole thing is topped off with a song featuring all of the women involved. "Lean On Me," fronted by Darlene Love, reemphasizes that this is a community unto itself, with women who have amazing voices that a world still has yet to realize. Sure, almost anyone can computerize voices now and create their own 'background singers.' But I can guarantee, after seeing this, you would never want to replace the beauty that true singers can bring to a piece of music.