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Behind the Oscar Docs: 20 Feet from Stardom

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This week we kicked off our annual series on Oscar nominated documentaries. We'll speak with the filmmakers behind all five films over the coming days: Cutie and the Boxer (Tuesday); The Square (Wednesday); 20 Feet from Stardom (Thursday); The Act of Killing (Friday); Dirty Wars (Monday)

Morgan Neville, director of the Oscar nominated feature documentary "20 Feet from Stardom," talks about his film bringing a bit of the spotlight to the back-up singers on so many classic tunes.

Guests:

Morgan Neville

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Comments [10]

fuva from harlemworld

mac -- True.
Occurs to me that what distinguish a star singer from the most talented back-up singer are (1) presence and (2) vocal distinctiveness.
One of (the many) problems with recording "artists" today is that they have neither of these and would be second-rate back-up singers too.

Feb. 13 2014 12:09 PM
fuva from harlemworld

Great film. Hope it wins.
Merry Clayton got out her BED, didn't even get dressed, did three takes and went back to SLEEP. I mean, God bless her soul...Seems a disservice to call what her voice did on "murrrrder" a "crack"; guess it is, but feels like soulful texture; it hurts so good.

Feb. 13 2014 12:04 PM
frank from MN

Carson or Letterman had the Pips on one night. They sang Midnight Train to Georgia without Gladys

Feb. 13 2014 11:58 AM
mac

don't forget charisma as an ingredient that makes a lead singer. you can have all the 'talent' and chops you want, but you can't be a lead singer without charisma.

Feb. 13 2014 11:57 AM
akena

Yanick Etienne's background vocals on AVALON by Roxy music. Can't leave that out.

Feb. 13 2014 11:56 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

How come NPR never interviews producers, artists and actors of great videogames? Such great videogames as "Last of Us" and "Tomb Raider" or "Bioshock" and "Uncharted" and a host of others that are embued with great stories, great artwork, emotional narratives, and heart-stopping action equal if not superior to most novels and movies, go totally unnoticed by the mainstream media, to my chagrin.
It's really time overdue to start paying some attention to the 21st century's most important new art form, the modern video game - many of which should really be called "interactive movies" by now.

Feb. 13 2014 11:54 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

I was just thinking about Gimme Shelter! Best backup vocals EVER. I love when Mary Clayton's voice cracks on "...mur-derrr ..."

Feb. 13 2014 11:54 AM

Do's Morgan interview Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky background singer?

Feb. 13 2014 11:53 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

How come NPR never interviews producers, artists and actors of great videogames? Such great videogames as "Last of Us" and "Tomb Raider" or "Bioshock" and "Uncharted" and a host of others that are embued with great stories, great artwork, emotional narratives, and heart-stopping action equal if not superior to most novels and movies, go totally unnoticed by the mainstream media, to my chagrin.
It's really time overdue to start paying some attention to the 21st century's most important new art form, the modern video game - many of which should really be called "interactive movies" by now.

Feb. 13 2014 11:53 AM
Melissa Soltis from Brooklyn

I have a question for Mr. Neville. For the past 3 years I have been documenting live music performances for a website called BlearyEyedBrooklyn. This work has sparked a handful of ideas about music related documentaries I'd like to take on. Like "20 feet from Stardom" these films all depend on securing musical licensing rights.

On this the Centennial anniversary of ASCAP I wondered if Mr. Neville can please speak specifically about how he managed this financial burden in his film. Also what if any influence did this have on his ability to tell this story? Your insights would be super helpful...

Thank you! Loved the film!

Feb. 13 2014 10:55 AM

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