20 Feet from Stardom: These Ladies Invented Fabulous! (Academy Awards Edition)

This is a piece I wrote last summer – found it fitting to re-post it now as the film just won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards.

“20 Feet From Stardom shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century.  Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and reward of a career spent harmonizing with others”  – RenewTheaters.org.  Couldn’t say it better and won’t.

The music and music history lesson is interlaced with great interviews and has a soundtrack that blows you away, but the movie stopped me in my sandals for another reason.  It is a way of experiencing and understanding what FabulousOver60 is about.

The stars in the film — Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Claudia Lennear and Lisa Fischer — due to both their extraordinary musical gifts and their own sweat and tears became fabulous because they worked for it against tough odds. They did so with a determination that many women, regardless of what they have or have not accomplished, can relate to.  They also became mentors, helpers and supporters of other women.  Judith Hill, whose newer career is featured in the movie, is taking her turn at stardom – building on the amazing legacy of these earlier musicians.

Cathy and I are sharing what we are doing to attempt to be the best we can be after 60 (and when not making it, laughing at ourselves).  The “non-formula”, to the extent that there is one (can you have a non-formula?) is getting clearer to us as we reflect, learn, and share our own stories and read/look at other women’s chronicles.  Hint: we want more of your stories. Click here to share.

Darlene Love with Bruce Springsteen

via darlenelove.com

The “fabulous philosophy” is evolving.  20 Feet from Stardom is one model for it.  Take the best of what we were/are professionally, bring the knowledge and know-how we earned, and stir it up frequently with daring ideas and of course great clothes (with the caveat—if you wore it the first or even a second time, bag it the next time).  Make a magical (not boring) fabulous life that works for you—filled with service and achievement, interesting exercise (how many times can a woman or a gerbil do 40 minutes on a treadmill without getting bored?) and relaxation. Add in some spiritual reflection, eating healthy with occasional splurges, family, friends and new people too. And all of it with a strong sense of humor and reality — especially about oneself.

Sometimes learning about fabulous women can be intimidating.  Shame on us if it is — it demonstrates that we are doing two things that never help anyone be fabulous — comparing ourselves negatively to other people, and also thinking there is some new standard of being a successful woman that we can’t measure up to.

Bottom line: Fabulous is an earned title — much more “Dr.” than “your highness” — it is as much perspiration as inspiration.  It fits if you think it fits and if you are not completely delusional.  We’re here for a reality check if you are not sure where you fit.