Stepping into the spotlight in ‘20 Feet From Stardom’

Victoria Will/Invision/AP

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It was like I was screaming my heart out for all of the racism and the Vietnam War and everything that was going on in the world. It was like I was screaming through my spirit to the people.”

That’s how Merry Clayton describes the sound of her iconic vocal on the Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter,” of how her scorched earth cries of “Rape! Murder! It’s just a shot away,” helped cement that song as a symbol of the turbulent times.

That song was one of many to which Clayton lent her indispensable vocal expertise. In the new film “20 Feet From Stardom,” which opens Friday, director Morgan Neville trains the spotlight on Clayton and many of her sisters in song.

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