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Ballad of Narayama

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Still Bill: The life and songs of Bill Withers

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Singer-songwriter Bill Withers had an unusual path to musical acclaim and he was born an asthmatic stutterer who was often told "you can't do nuthin'." He did not own a guitar until he was 32 years old, the same year he started his musical career--while keeping his job fabricating toilets for Weber Aircraft, just in case. His first album, 1971's "Just as I Am", came with a hit single, "Ain't No Sunshine," which hit No. 3 on the pop charts. He followed this auspicious start with a string of hits, including "Lean on Me," "Use Me" and "Grandma's Hands." Nine Grammy nominations also rolled in during the next 15 years, with three wins.

But in 1985, Bill Withers just stopped. He did not fade entirely from public view--he was inducted into the Songwriting Hall of Fame in 2005--but there were no more albums from this prolific artist. Still Bill, an intimate and engaging portrait of this music icon, takes its name from Withers's second album, and also answers the questions about who Bill Withers is and where he has been since his music career ended. -- From the Facets announcement.

"Still Bill," a new documentary about Bill Withers, plays Feb. 12-18 at Facets Cinematheque, 1517 W. Fullerton. Here is an online concert:

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