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20 Feet from Stardom (2013)

Twenty Feet from Stardom (original title)
PG-13 | | Documentary, Music | 26 July 2013 (USA)
2:16 | Trailer

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Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we've had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now.


Morgan Neville
Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Lou Adler ... Himself
Stephanie 'Stevvi' Alexander ... Herself (as Stevvi Alexander)
Patti Austin ... Herself
Chris Botti ... Himself
Todd Boyd Todd Boyd ... Himself (as Dr. Todd Boyd)
Carole Childs Carole Childs ... Herself
Amy Christian Amy Christian ... Herself
Greg Clark Greg Clark ... Himself
Kyliyah Clayton Kyliyah Clayton ... Herself
Merry Clayton ... Herself
Susan Collins Susan Collins ... Herself
Charlotte Crossley Charlotte Crossley ... Herself
Sheryl Crow ... Herself
Chris Darrow Chris Darrow ... Himself
Paul Epworth ... Himself


The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Meet the unsung heroes behind the greatest music of our time.


Documentary | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language and sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

26 July 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A 20 pasos de la fama See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$54,596, 16 June 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. See more »


References The Lion King (1994) See more »


The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)
Written by Rudy Clark (uncredited)
Performed by Betty Everett (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

20 Feet From Stardom allows various backup singers to step into the spotlight.
10 February 2019 | by TheMovieDioramaSee all my reviews

Ever wondered why some of the greatest songs of all time sound harmoniously perfect? Simply answer: background singers. The perfect complement to lead singers that can transform an average song into an instant hit. We often take these wonderful singers for granted, and this documentary allows them to step forward and present their talent to the masses. Neville focuses on various singers, including Darlene Love and Lisa Fischer (holy wow can she sing!), as they recall the struggles and opportunities their careers opened up to them. Singing alongside The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and David Bowie may sound like the perfect job, but hiding in the shadows often increases their desire for wanting fame. Many of these singers wanted to pursue solo careers, but due to the strict music industry at a time where civil rights were debated and genre artists were limited, this ultimately lead to their records never sticking. Neville utilises their frustrations to illustrate the natural progression of music in its entirety. From soul to rock'n'roll to manufactured pop. These singers had to adapt to demands and change within their industry, and it was fascinating to watch. Heartfelt interviews and insights actually came across as educational, particularly for 60's soul. Racial differences are raised and topics regarding being replaced by artificial vocals are also mentioned, although underdeveloped. The inevitable fear of technological advancements replacing authentic vocals should've been discussed more. It's an assured documentary, but one that does not attempt to stand out. Nothing special with its direction or editing is included, but it remains entertaining throughout. One comment that is important, are the various interviews with lead singers. To hear them show their appreciation for backup singers was gratifying. And much like this documentary, it's important to hear the vocal talent and ambition these singers have. I suspect you will find an entire new adoration for these wonderful individuals. I have!

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