By Belle McIntyre I am still high from seeing this film. This documentary look into the lives of some of the best backup singers alive is thoroughly joyful and poignant as we see up close and personal how important their contribution has been to some of our most-loved and popular music. They are given tributes by the likes of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Bruce Springstein, Sting and Stevie Wonder.
The film focuses on five of the women (some are in their 70’s) and they get to tell their own stories about what it is like to be so close and yet so far from the spotlight and public recognition. Not all of them are driven to stepping up to the position of soloist. As Springstein said: “It is a conceptual leap”. While a few have made that leap - most notably Darlene Love, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Bette Midler in 2011, and Lisa Fischer who won a Grammy in 1991. But some of them seem to be thrilled to be making a joyful noise. It is a privilege and a treat to meet them.
The film is a brilliantly edited mix of some electrifying archival footage of rehearsals, recording sessions and concerts interspersed with the various interviews. There are certain songs which I will never hear in the same way - Sweet Home Alabama, Gimme Shelter and Young Americans, to name a few.
Had this been shown in a less elegant theatre than the Elinor Bunin at Lincoln Center, there surely would have been some vocal displays of appreciation. It has the energy of a rock and roll concert and the soul of gospel.