“20 Feet From Stardom” is a movie about background and session singers. For music wonks, it’s fantastic.
The New Orleans connection is slight but powerful. One of the singers profiled in the movie is Merry Clayton. She was born in New Orleans but moved away when she was a child.
Possibly the most famous session in which she participated is the recording of “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. Rolling Stone Magazine picked this as the best all-time recording by the Stones. That high keening refrain of “Rape, murder, …” is her — not one of the Stones — and that, along with the guitar intro, is absolutely what elevates the song from merely good to iconic.