June 28, 2013 |
Director Morgan Neville's 20 Feet From Stardom , a celebration of the female African American backup vocalists who are the unheralded heroines of rock and roll, starts off with the sound of Lou Reed's "Walk On the Wide Side. " The film, which opens Friday at the Ritz Five, puts forth what Neville calls "the meta arc of the backup singer. " Most prominent in his tale are Darlene Love, the uncredited powerhouse behind Phil Spector's Wall of Sound; Merry Clayton, who sang with Carol King and Lynyrd Skynyrd but is best known for her role with the Rolling Stones on "Gimme Shelter"; and Lisa Fischer, who stood toe to toe singing with Mick Jagger during the Stones' dates in Philadelphia this month, as she has with the band since 1989.
June 28, 2013 |
LOS ANGELES - You've seen them, but not noticed them. You've heard them, but not listened to them. The new documentary "20 Feet From Stardom" shines a light away from center stage over to the world of female backup singers. Directed by Morgan Neville, the film looks most specifically at the lives and careers of six women - Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Tata Vega, Claudia Lennear and Judith Hill - who span generations of music and have worked with a broad spectrum of artists including the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector, Stevie Wonder, Sting and Ike and Tina Turner.
January 25, 2013
GROWING UP, my sisters and I had our own singing group modeled after 1960s-era Motown singing group the Supremes. We called ourselves the Midget Supremes and performed in our parents' living room and anywhere else we could get anyone to "Stop! In the Name of Love" and pay attention to our loud, off-key singing. I, of course, took lead singer Diana Ross' part. Looking back, I was like a pint-size drill sergeant, and I don't know why my poor sisters didn't just go outside and ride their bikes to get away from me. I'm ashamed to admit that I kicked one out for not taking her role as my backup singer seriously enough.
December 5, 2012 |
Vivian Green is best known for the way she belted each line of her first single, "Emotional Rollercoaster," with pain and angst you knew signaled the love was fated to end. More than 10 years later, on her new album, The Green Room , she's singing about the excitement of new love. What's inspiring all the happy lyrics? "I am single. I will say that," she said. "My first album [ A Love Story ], I was sad," said the 33-year-old Philadelphia native, "and the second album I was angry.
August 27, 2012 |
CHERI ANN VANDYKE had a voice that took her from singing backup for Jon Bon Jovi to performing the national anthem at an Eagles game. Her talent, which ranged from singing standards in her early career to gospels at area churches later, gave her the chance to travel widely. But something changed for her when her beloved sister, Donna D. Bond, was murdered under bizarre circumstances in 2005. Her sister was her devoted friend and also her biggest fan. "It really hurt her," said VanDyke's niece, Shavawn Bond, Donna's daughter.
October 13, 2010 |
Even after he stopped making records and performing, Pat Marioni couldn't quit writing songs. "He was always writing something," said his daughter Kristin Ferrante. The songs wound up with his family and weren't likely to be performed. It seemed as if Pat wrote them for his own pleasure, probably with little thought that they would ever be sung. Pat Marioni, who made his mark in his youth singing with a group of fellow South Philadelphians, cutting records and backing better-known vocalists while barely out of their teens, died Oct. 8 of heart failure.
April 23, 2008 |
Alicia Keys brought her soul revue to the Liacouras Center on Monday night, a show that struggled to be all things to all people. After a taped introduction featuring Cedric the Entertainer as a bombastic preacher played on the giant screen over the stage, Keys took the stage, dressed in a sleeveless black vest, black leather pants, and kicky sequined high heels, and shouting, "Philly!" The opening numbers were medleys, the choreography hectic and the pacing rushed. It felt as though the singer's tour bus were double-parked.
May 17, 2007
Last night after another unforgivably padded results show, full of noise and flash but signifying nothing, Melinda Doolittle was sent packing on American Idol. The result was somewhat surprising because the 29-year-old Tennessean was widely assumed to be a shoo-in for next week's finals. Instead, Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks will face off for the Idol crown. All season Melinda had been a model of consistency and clearly the judges' favorite. Her experience as a backup singer was evident in her polished, often flawless performances.
March 13, 2007 |
Here we go again, America. There are 12 Idol finalists but only one can win. What are the odds? Haley Scarnato 24; San Antonio, Texas Haley who? Haley how? Haley what? 100 to 1. Brandon Rogers 29; North Hollywood, Calif. Backup singer with the dubious ability to turn any song into Jell-O; caught a break because Sundance Head was just too weird. Not long for the Idol spotlight. 75 to 1. Sanjaya Malakar 17; Federal Way, Wash. Simon accused him of imitating Paula's hairstyle and here he is, top 12. The impossibly-straight-hair vote is always unpredictable, as is the can't-avert-your-eyes train-wreck vote.
September 13, 2003 |
Mariah Carey's concert at the Tower Theater on Wednesday night was like a Jerry Lewis telethon: an erratic show with chintzy production values and an odd bird whose taste for sappy sentimentality seems unbounded. Oh, there's the voice. Always the voice. At 33, Carey sings with the same remarkable range, power, expressiveness and agility that made her a star. Her bravura, if ostentatious, renditions of "My All," "My Saving Grace," and "Always Be My Baby" were arresting. But although her rich repertoire includes 15 No. 1 hits, she chose to do some of her more misshapen and unpopular material, such as "Clown" and "Can't Take That Away.