TODAY   |  June 13, 2013

Darlene Love: I always wanted to sing by myself

Soulful singer Darlene Love was dubbed one of the greatest singers of all times by Rolling Stone. Now the 71-year-old performer is featured in a new documentary, “20 Feet from Stardom.” She tells Kathie Lee and Hoda about the freedom she felt when she went solo after being a backup singer to some of the world’s most famous musicians.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if you are of a certain era you probably remember this song. it's from 1962 and it's called "he's a rebel" and it was sung by darlene.

>> she can be called a chart troper, author and actress. her road to success wasn't easy, including her stint as a housekeeper just to make ends meet.

>> her story is told in a new film called "50 feet from stardom."

>> my christmas record came on the radio while i was cleaning this bathroom. they're singing deck the halls

>> and i just looked up and said, okay, darlene. this is not where you're supposed to be. you're supposed to be singing. there's a whole world out there who wants to hear you sing.

>> oh, yes, there is. so good to see you.

>> how are you?

>> great to be back with you guys.

>> so great to see you having the career you're supposed to have.

>> 20 feet from stardom. you've sung backup for some of the greats, haven't you?

>> yeah, and bruce said it best in the film. it's 20 feet but it's a whole lot of inches in between those feet. well, you know, i mean, it is. and i have had a wonderful career because all the people i've backed up respected me.

>> like who?

>> well, bruce.

>> elvis presley , sam cooke , luther vandross .

>> but everybody knows.

>> was it frustrating to be -- because you have one of those angeli angelic, terrific voices. was it frustrating to watch someone take the spotlight while you were on the side?

>> not unless it was someone like my friend sonny bono or nancy sinatra .

>> uh-huh.

>> okay.

>> but it was fun.

>> it was okay because we were meant to make them sound good. and that's what we did.

>> and a lot of people would see the bad dark side of that notoriety the stars had to face. i'm making a really good living. i don't have to put the fannys in the seat.

>> i still wonder about that today because i was making a good living but it gets too comfortable and i always wanted to sing by myself. i can understand when people are in a group. they can only do so much. you get by yourself. you are freer. and that's what i wanted to do. i wanted to be freer with my singing.

>> they always talked about how the backup singers are like the choir in church.

>> yes.

>> and the preacher was the lead singer .

>> started out like so many great singers do. you started out in the church.

>> my father was a minister.

>> you were pk.

>> my sister and three brothers. you have that many in your family --

>> what songs?

>> and vacation bible school . uh-huh. i know.

>> what songs do you love to sing? what do you sing in the shower?

>> i sing gospel. the old singers like james cleveland .

>> give us a little something. a hole to his hand god's unchanging hand whoa, hole to his hand god's unchanging hand build your hopes on things eternal i tell you got a hole to god's unchanging hand

>> i am so happy. still doing it. it's a beautiful movie.

>> hoda was blown away.

>> and fiphil spector, in a word describe him.

>> power hungry. he never made any of his recording artists stars. it was about him.

>> we are thrilled for you. one of the all-time greats. 20 feet from stardom opens tomorrow in new york and l.a. and across the country in the coming weeks.

>> it's so worth seeing.