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Doco showcases backup singers

Friday 14 Jun 2013 12:14 a.m.

The New Zealand International Film Festival gets underway next month, and things are gathering pace.

Foreign guests will be flying in to talk to local film buffs and it will also see the first showing here of a documentary on entertainment's unsung singers.

Five years before she made it big, a now-famous singer sang backup for Michael Jackson, each night playing the object of his affections on the Bad World tour.

But not all backup singers make it out of the shadows, until now.

Documentary maker Morgan Neville decided he wanted to give them some credit.

"I probably interview 65 backup singers. I spent a lot of time interviewing back up singers. A lot of backup singers are incredible artists, but by definition aren't stars so I found myself gravitating to a handful of women who should have been stars, would have been stars but if it wasn't for one hit we'd all know who they are."

20 Feet From Stardom premiered at Sundance to rave reviews and will play at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Judith Hill is one of the backup singers featured in the film.

"There are a lot of amazing singers who could have been the star but didn't," she says. "There might be something in them, their management as the reason they are in the background. It's not that they can't sing it - there are so many things."

So who was that backup singer who did become a massive star after singing with Michael Jackson? It was Sheryl Crow.

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