Human Capital: Backup Singers
Last night at the Nantucket Film Festival, I saw the new documentary, “20 Feet from Stardom.” Focusing on the (unknown) backup singers who worked with mega stars like Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger, the film had great music and a good story. Also, it has an economic connection.
Wailing “Rape, murder! It’s just a shot away. It’s just a shot away.” Merry Clayton is a familiar voice in Gimme Shelter from the Rolling Stones. Similarly, watching Ray Charles and Ike and Tina Turner, you could see the crucial role played by the people with huge talent who had to blend in behind the star.
In this Ray Charles clip, his 4 backup singers are typical:
My bottom line: I recommend the movie.
For the economic connection: The film follows singers like Darlene Love and Lisa Fischer. It ends with Judith Hill’s current career initiative after doing support for Michael Jackson. As human capital, these women are prototypes for many employees who are the talented backups, the support that enables the entrepreneur or the CEO to thrive. And just like the backups in the film, they too have to decide when to blend, when to stand out and when to leave and try to become a “star.” Two current CEOs did not have to leave: Tim Cook at Apple and Steve Ballmer at Microsoft.