The background singers who are the subjects of the Oscar-shortlisted documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” will make an unusual campaign stop on New Year’s Day: performing “The Star-Spangled Banner” to kick off the 100th Rose Bowl football game.
While it’s usual to book pop stars with albums to promote to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, the historic college game typically lets one of the participating teams’ marching bands handle it.
When “20 Feet” stars Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and Darlene Love take to the field in Pasadena, it will be “the only known time” that outside performers will handle the anthem, according to a press release from the film’s distributor, RADiUS-TWC.
Directed by Morgan Neville, “20 Feet From Stardom” is the most commercially successful of the 15 shortlisted documentaries still in contention for the Oscars, though it has been overshadowed in awards season by more serious docs like “The Act of Killing,” “Stories We Tell” and “The Square.”
It has made $4.8 million at the box office to date, making it the second-highest-grossing doc of the year, after the concert movie “One Direction: This Is Us.”
The four Rose Bowl performers are all veteran singers whose voices have appeared on pop and rock hits and onstage with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner.
Love (photo at top) also had a number of hits in the ’60s produced by Phil Spector, both under her own name and as the lead singer of the Crystals.
Clayton is best-known for her scorching vocals on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter”; a sequence devoted to that song’s recording is one of the highlights of “20 Feet From Stardom.”
Fischer has toured with the Stones, Luther Vandross and Nine Inch Nails, and made her solo debut in 1991.