Gospel Music

I watched the documentary " 20 Feet From Stardom" tonight on Netflix and highly recommend it!! 

It won the Oscar for Best Documentary--Features at this years Academy Awards.

If you look on IMDB, this is how they describe the storyline:

The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves.

It was fascinating hearing these women's stories, and the evolution of the back-up singer throughout the evolution of popular music from the 1950's and beyond. 

But one predominate thread that seemed to connect all these women and their stories was the fact they were raised in church and their strongest musical influence was Gospel Music.  In fact, at one point in the documentary, Bruce Springsteen said that putting on a concert is like going to church, with the main singer as the preacher, and the back up singers are like the choir.

They talked how they learned to harmonize in church.  They learned to hear the music in church.  The beginning of their craft began in church.  They all believed they had a special gift, and needed to learn how to use it.

There were a lot of discussions about singing music to sing because it meant something to you.  And how when you sing music, it should be a spiritual experience.  Music should not be about making money....it should be about sharing something from deep within your soul.

It showed how some of the back up singers tried to make it big as solo artists, and it just didn't work.

And it showed how back up singers are very rare in popular music anymore.  Partly because of the technology that people can use now, and how accessible it is to produce your own music.  So people can do their own harmonies using their own voices, or use family members to harmonize. 

But the sound in the 60's and 70's needed the back up singer. 

And many of these women were very prominent with many singers, such as Stevie Wonder, Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones and Michael Jackson.

If I haven't convinced you yet that you should watch it, here is a trailer.....

One of the women that particularly stood out to me was a woman by the name of Lisa Fischer.  I'm sure as people watch this film, different singers' stories will appeal to different people.  Fischer's story appealed to me, because she loved to sing.  She sang for the love of music.  She didn't care so much about making money.  I loved her story.  Here she is singing at a screening of the movie.

If you enjoy music, and enjoy hearing stories about creating music, please take the time to watch this documentary.  Right now you can stream it on Netflix.  I hope if you watch it, you love it as much as Paul, Coco and I loved it.

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