High Five

Lisa Fischer’s star shines

Peter DaSilva for New York Times

Anyone who has seen the Rolling Stones in concert since 1989 has had the pleasure of watching Lisa Fischer raise the roof with her exquisite backup vocals. Quite simply, she makes the band better. At the Stones shows earlier this month at the TD Garden, Fischer was a force with which to be reckoned, both singing alongside fellow backing vocalist and buddy Bernard Fowler and during her star turn on “Gimme Shelter,” going toe-to-toe with Mick Jagger.

Fischer is one of the subjects of a new film that shines a light on background vocalists “20 Feet From Stardom,” which opens Friday. (See review, Page 12.) We asked her to list five of her favorite background singer moments and harmony vocal arrangements. She is partial to the great Patti Austin and gives props to “20 Feet” costar Merry Clayton, who provided the original shivers on “Gimme Shelter.” Fischer says she’s honored to be the caretaker of that iconic vocal.

1. “Gimme Shelter,” the Rolling Stones. Singer: Merry Clayton “It’s not an easy song to sing, and Merry nails it.”


2. “Boogie Wonderland,” Earth, Wind & Fire. Singers: the Emotions. “Those backgrounds kill me.”

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3. “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” Singers: the 5th Dimension. “I know it’s corny but I love it.”

4. “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun,” Rotary Connection. Singer: Minnie Riperton. “I listened to that and I lost my mind.” (Fischer went on to do a remake with Nuyorican Soul.)

5. “Razzamatazz,” Quincy Jones. Singer: Patti Austin. “Love her, oh my god, that killed me.”