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February 17th, 2014
04:57 PM ET

"Piers Morgan Live, Rewind": Singers from "20 Feet From Stardom" offer insight into the challenges that come with backing up the best

Whether you fell asleep early, stayed out too late, or simply want to watch it again, we realize it's not always possible to get your entire "Piers Morgan Live" fix from television. As an answer to this, we offer the below labor of love – "Piers Morgan Live, Rewind" – dedicated and designed to getting you caught up and connected to the conversation.

  • Sirens of the Spotlight Shadows: Being a Back-up to the Best

So close and yet so far. Such read the tagline for the careers of many who sing backup for some of music's most famous men and women in music. Belting out beautiful vocals from just beyond center stage, these artists are in many cases the backbone of great music, yet they never achieve the fame of those lead acts they share the stage with.

However, thanks to the Oscar-nominated documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” some of these sirens of the spotlight shadows are finally being presented as the leading ladies.

On Friday evening, Piers Morgan welcomed three of the film’s heroines – Merry Clayton, Tata Vega, and Judith Hill – asking the trio about the new celebrity status that has followed so many years backing up the likes of Ray Charles, Michael Jackson, Elton John, and Madonna.

“I was saying to the girls, I'll say, ‘You know what, can you please just pinch me and let me know that this is not a dream and that we are really living this,’” said Clayton, admitting to being baffled by the latest developments.

Noting that supporting independent artists is an entirely different animal that being thrust front and center into the spotlight, Vega explained why such a transition isn't the goal of all ensemble acts:

“Some prefer to not make that walk,” she told Morgan. “They prefer to be ‘the frame,’ so to speak.”

  • Judith Hill: The benefits of being a back-up, versus shooting for a solo shot

Despite being one of the younger stars featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary “20 Feet From Stardom,” Judith Hill is no stranger to enter stage, having garnered quite a bit of success as both a backup and an independent vocalist.

Strong enough to be selected by Michael Jackson, Hill was set to perform accompanying vocals for the "King of Pop" on his 2009 world tour, even practicing with the late singer a mere hours before his death. And as a solo performer, Hill was a favorite with critics and audiences alike as a contestant on the 2013 season of “The Voice.”

Joining "Piers Morgan Live" Friday night, Hill delved deeper into a discussion about her solo career, including the tricky balance required to navigate a profitable back-up career while chasing the ultimate goal of solo stardom:

“Sometimes you just have to make those hard decisions and turn down background singing and go for your dream, even if it's hard,” Hill explained. “It's a hard road.”

For the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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