Lisa Fischer and "Twenty Feet From Stardom"
05-20-2014, 10:28 PM, (This post was last modified: 05-20-2014, 10:39 PM by Miguel.)
Lisa Fischer and "Twenty Feet From Stardom"
"Twenty Feet From Stardom" is a movie about backup singers, including Judith Hill, who appeared on The Voice. Most of the film though is dedicated to older women who have more of a story to tell.

Lisa Fischer is one of them. I was impressed by how she could sing softly with Sting and rock with the Rolling Stones (their lead female vocalist since the late 1980s). She won a Grammy for her one solo album. At some point in the documentary, she remarks that some people chase fame while others live for the moment of connecting with others in a musical experience (paraphrasing).

05-21-2014, 12:09 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-21-2014, 12:10 AM by john.)
RE: Lisa Fischer and "Twenty Feet From Stardom"
I watched that Gimme Shelter video a few weeks ago and noted that the Lisa Fischer was being featured in the title. Now I know why.

Merry Clayton sang the female part on the recording of Gimme Shelter.

It is nice to see these singers getting some recognition.

05-21-2014, 11:37 AM, (This post was last modified: 05-21-2014, 12:07 PM by Miguel.)
RE: Lisa Fischer and "Twenty Feet From Stardom"
More on Lisa Fischer, from the NYT:

Quote:The Voice Behind Mick (and Others)

...Ms. Fischer had a hit of her own. She won a Grammy in 1992 for her first single, “How Can I Ease the Pain,” beating out none other than Ms. Franklin. But she never completed a second record, in large part because she decided that the heat of the spotlight wasn’t for her. Backup singing was her calling.

“I reject the notion that the job you excel at is somehow not enough to aspire to, that there has to be something more,” Ms. Fischer explained, speaking with her eyes closed, as she tends to do. “I love supporting other artists.”

She continued: “I guess it came down to not letting other people decide what was right for me. Everyone’s needs are unique. My happy is different from your happy.”

The upshot: Ms. Fischer has paradoxically emerged as a star partly because of her decision not to seek stardom.

...Despite their second-class status — at least as determined by the business and societal expectations — a good backup singer has skills that a solo artist typically does not. They have to put their egos aside, instantly meshing their identities with the other background performers on the line. Remaining pliable is crucial. They also must be able to immediately understand what the band wants, often without explicit instructions.

“You have to learn the person’s kiss,” said Ms. Fischer, who is prone to metaphors. “You can feel when it’s ending.”

Ms. Fischer has been singing ever since she can remember. Some of her fondest memories of growing up in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn involve the whole family — Mom, a homemaker; Dad, a security guard and warehouse worker; and two younger brothers — singing together around a piano at Christmas, the colored lights on their aluminum tree flashing.

She did some club gigs under the stage name Xena (she didn’t pick it) in the early 1980s and recorded a demo, but got her break from Vandross, who hired her as a backup singer in 1983 and with whom she continued to work until his death in 2005. Chaka Khan was a particular hero, Ms. Fischer said, and when she got the chance to sing with her, it ... well, she could not quite finish the sentence, breaking into tears of gratitude. (She composed herself by focusing on the menu: “La, la, la, la,” she trilled, “what kind of fruit should I have?”)

Her relationship with the Rolling Stones started with an audition for Mick Jagger, which she landed through friend-of-a-friend industry connections. “I know I came in looking crazy that day, but I was young and cute, so whatever,” she said.

Mr. Jagger put her demo tape into a boom box and asked her to start singing. He then surprised her by starting to dance around her.

“I thought, ‘He’s really weird, man!’ ” she said. “He was trying to feel my energy but nobody gave me the memo. I just kept singing and didn’t let it throw me, and that’s what got me the gig.”

Her album, “So Intense,” came along in 1991, with “How Can I Ease the Pain“ hitting No. 1 on the R&B charts. Reviewing the recording for The Washington Post, Gil Griffin called Ms. Fischer a “tremendous talent,” a singer with “great range, often hitting high notes few of her counterparts can.”

To her shock, the song won her a Grammy, which she accepted wearing a dress with a dramatic feathered collar. For Ms. Fischer, it was actually a type of a double victory: Patti LaBelle was also given a Grammy in the same category that year — a tie. True to form, Ms. Fischer had sung backup on the song that won Ms. LaBelle the prize, “Burnin.’ ” (Ms. LaBelle subsequently deemed Ms. Fischer “fierce” in an interview with USA Today.)

But when it came time to work on the follow-up, Ms. Fischer tried but ultimately decided it wasn’t for her. “I was putting myself out there for the business to put under a microscope and poke at with a pair of prongs,” she said. “I didn’t like it. Sooner or later, something was going to break, and I didn’t want to break.”

She took a drink of ice water and adjusted the brown bandanna tied over her hair. “Some people will do anything to be famous,” she said. “I just wanted to sing.”

I focused on her initially because she stood out because she had always been content as a backup singer.

The movie -- which I watched on NetFlix -- features a lot of great singing and good music.

Things that stuck with me:

-- One singer credited rock acts with saving them. They let them unleash their abilities rather than performing quietly in the background. That was followed by a period where they were cut out of the loop as technology usurped artistry.

-- Táta Vega released several solo albums but was dropped as a solo artist because she was "too old" and the industry had room for only one "Aretha."

-- Claudia Lennear, supposedly the inspiration for the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," quit the business because she had trouble paying the gas bill and had a daughter to support

-- Darlene Love was cleaning someone's home for a living when she heard a holiday song she had recorded on the radio. She decided then she wasn't meant to be cleaning toilets for a living. She went on to be the most successful singer featured and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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