You may not recognise their faces, but you know their voices: they’re the ones crooning the doo-doo-da-doos and sha-la-las in your favourite golden oldies. They are backing singers, mostly African-American women, who stand behind the Mick Jaggers and Stevie Wonders, belting out the bits you end up humming for weeks. ‘Twenty Feet from Stardom’, which won the Best Documentary Oscar last month, puts these unsung heroines of the music industry in the spotlight.
Here’s Jagger on Merry Clayton’s showstopping turn on ‘Gimme Shelter’: ‘Fucking ’ell, that’s good.’ That applies to every one of the women featured here. Best of all is the way the doc harmonises the singers’ highs and lows: their success stories and failed solo careers and ego suppression. This is several cuts above your average music doc. Inspiring.