20 FEET FROM STARDOM – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Who are the colored girls who, as Lou Reed sang, go “do do-do do-do”? Who is the woman behind that spine-chilling refrain of “Rape, murder / It’s just a shot away / It’s just a shot away” on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”? This fantastic film — from veteran music documentarian Morgan Neville, and a must-see for any fan of modern pop music, from rock to R&B to soul — introduces us to the extraordinary women you didn’t know were behind some of the songs you know by heart. They are mostly black women, many the daughters of ministers and pastors who honed their talents singing in church choirs. In interviews with them here, they are profoundly generous as they talk about their work making some of the biggest stars in music — from Bruce Springsteen to Bette Midler to Stevie Wonder to the late Luther Vandross — sound better while receiving little to no recognition for themselves: they speak of the joys of collaboration, of being a chameleon, of contributing to a larger sound. Read more>>

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).