Five musical documentaries to watch after Jon Batiste’s ‘American Symphony’
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Five musical documentaries to watch after Jon Batiste's ‘American Symphony’

We are exposed to celebrities and their private lives a bit too much in the age of digital disruptions and influencer empire-building. But when famous and talented artists give us access to their lives, minds, and creative journeys through documentaries, we are always happy to take a deep dive.

The latest in the arena of musical documentaries, Jon Batiste’s American Symphony already stands out as a poignant exploration of art, love, and the process of creation. 

The film captures the essence of Batiste’s journey through a year full of turmoil. While he endeavoured to compose the symphony of a lifetime, life threw a curveball as his life partner, author Suleika Jaouad’s cancer resurfaced. This documentary weaves a narrative around two artists navigating the crucial crossroads of life.

American Symphony arrived on Netflix on November 29th, and if you are done bingeing it already, then here are five other musical documentaries that delve into the lives of iconic artists and the various facets of the music industry for you to enjoy.

Wham! (2023)

For those nostalgic about the 1970s and 80s music scene, the Netflix documentary on the pop duo Wham! offers a captivating journey into the whirlwind days of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s rise to fame. Using archival footage, interviews, and anecdotes, the documentary explores the genesis of their iconic hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Last Christmas”, and more, providing a heartfelt and nostalgic look at the British invasion era.

Miss Americana (2020)

Directed by Lana Wilson, Miss Americana is a measured documentary that follows the life of Taylor Swift during a transformative phase in her career. From her Reputation Stadium Tour to the release of her seventh studio album, Lover, the film presents an emotionally charged portrayal of Swift as she grapples with her identity as a singer-songwriter and influential woman.

Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop (2023)

Shifting the focus to the hip-hop genre, this docu-series celebrates the contributions of female rappers. Beyond the glossy surface, it sheds light on the challenges faced by women in an industry predominantly controlled by men. Featuring prominent names like Queen Latifah and Mc Lyte, the series also highlights the triumphs of lesser-known female artists, providing a comprehensive view of their impact on the hip-hop landscape.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé (2019)

Beyoncé’s Homecoming documentary takes viewers behind the scenes of her iconic 2018 Coachella performance. As a performance piece, it showcases the dedication and meticulous planning required to execute a live show of such magnitude. Directed and produced by Beyoncé herself, the documentary provides an intimate look at the multifaceted artist’s work ethic, drive, and vision.

Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2019)

Directed by the acclaimed Martin Scorsese, this documentary delves into Bob Dylan’s 1975 tour, offering a blend of fiction and fact. As one of America’s musical icons, Dylan’s career is explored against the backdrop of the political landscape of that era. With insight into Dylan’s continuous self-reinvention, the documentary paints an intimate portrait of an artist whose genius is masterfully captured by Scorsese.