For the next few Wednesdays in Lent, I’ll be talking about Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “Love Idol,” which released on March 25, 2014.
On Friday night, when it was just me and the puppies at home, I rented the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom.” It just won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. It’s about backup singers. Tagline: “Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names.”
Oh, it’s great — don’t get me wrong. Fabulous, fabulous music sung by women who … it’s unbelievable what they can do with their voices. The heartbreaking part is that very few people outside of industry insiders know their names. Many of them have tried to launch solo careers, and for whatever reason it didn’t work. A few theories are proposed, but each one falls flat next to these women’s voices.
You know who else was basically a backup singer? A fellow in the Bible I’d never heard of until I read Jennifer’s book “Love Idol.” Apelles.
“Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ,” (Romans 16:10).
“That’s all that Paul wrote about Apelles. Just one sentence, nothing else,” Jennifer writes. “No accolades or applause or records of great conquests.”
So, imagine Paul as the lead singer. He’s one of the guys featured in this film — Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger. And Apelles is the backup singer you’ve never heard of — Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Judith Hill, Claudia Lennear and Lisa Fischer.
“I felt like if I just gave my heart to what I was doing, I would automatically become a star,” said Merry Clayton (“Gimme Shelter,” The Rolling Stones).
Things got so bad for Darlene Love (“Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”) that she started cleaning houses.
I cried right there on my couch. I wanted to stand up and tell these women they are preapproved. That it doesn’t matter that so few people knew who they were. They’re amazing. They made the careers of these lead artists. And they have gotten to do what they love for a living — sing. They just sang 20 feet from stardom.
Most of us will be more like Apelles than Paul. We’ll never be the stars, the ones with the name recognition. We may be 50 feet, maybe even 1,000 feet from stardom. We can still bring all of our talent and passion to what we do. We are still preapproved, whether anyone knows it or not.