Synopsis by Mark Deming
Bill Withers was one of the singular musical artists of the 1970s; an African-American singer/songwriter, Withers embraced elements of soul and funk in some of this hits (most notably "Use Me"), but he also drew from gospel ("Lean on Me"), jazz ("Just the Two Of Us"), country ("Who Is He and What Is He to You"), and contemporary folk ("Ain't No Sunshine" and "Grandma's Hands"), and his music was marked by a simple but expressive emotional outlook and a warm sincerity in both his vocals and his songwriting. Withers was a major star in the 1970s, but by 1985 he'd grown tired of battling record companies for control of his music and wanted to step away from the footlights to live a quieter life with his family. Withers has rarely performed in public since, despite a continued interest in his music and the respect of his peers. Filmmakers Alex Vlack and Damani Baker are a pair of music fans who persuaded Withers to talk about his life and career on camera, and Still Bill is a documentary that offers an intimate portrait of a reclusive artist, as well as interviews and performances from musicians who love and respect his work. Still Bill received its world premiere at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival.