It's no surprise that a documentary about backup singers who spend their careers 20 Feet from Stardom would resonate with Music City's legions of session players, sidemen and unsung backing vocalists. But the audiences that have turned out for Morgan Neville's Sundance hit, featuring the likes of "Gimme Shelter" belter Merry Clayton, have surpassed even The Belcourt's expectations. In part, that's because of the weekly Sunday-afternoon panels the theater has assembled, at which some of Nashville's highest-profile backing singers have shared their own stories after the movie.
This Sunday's panel, moderated by Craig Havighurst, already had a stellar lineup featuring Shaun Murphy (whose credits include stints with Bob Seger, Eric Clapton, Meat Loaf and Phil Collins) and Carmella Ramsey (Patty Loveless, Kid Rock, James Taylor, Reba McEntire). Now comes word that they'll be joined by Nashville resident Crystal Taliefero, who came to prominence as a featured member of John Mellencamp's Lonesome Jubilee-era band — that's her you hear prominently on his single "Paper and Fire" — and went on to a longtime gig with Billy Joel as well as Springsteen, Elton John, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, etc., etc.
Taliefero, who's also a multi-instrumentalist even beyond the standards of that overused term, should have amazing stories (if she can share them). It's worth going to find out. The Q&A will begin after the 5:25 p.m. screening Sunday. Above: last week's panel, hosted by Belcourt education and engagement director Allison Inman and featuring singers (left to right) Robert Bailey, Vicki Hampton, Wendy Moten, Kim Fleming and moderator Janice Malone.