It was 1989, and I was living at The Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. Bronx-born film director Nancy Savoca was finishing her first full-length feature film “True Love”, starring newcomers Annabella Sciorra and Ron Eldard. She wanted a song for the big love scene and asked me if I’d record a version of the 1981 soul classic “How Bout Us”, originally released by Champaign and written by Dana Walden. I always loved the song and agreed to do it. My producers and I thought it would make a great duet and called on soul singer Betty Wright to record it with me. I ended up adding it as a bonus track in a special re-release of my 1988 “Blind To Reason” RCA album, and It became a hit for both myself and Betty. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at The Sundance Film Festival in 1989.

Gray Betty Wright Baker Axel

[At D&D Studios, NYC, recording “How Bout Us”. Left to right: producer Axel Kroell, me, Betty Wright, producer Michael Baker.]

RCA asked us to do a video for it, and we flew down to New Orleans, where I had just recently performed with my band at the club Tipitina’s. The director Jim Gabour had chosen an old grand house on Clouet street in the Bywater, at the home of a very well-known antiques collector. Coincidentally an aunt of mine lived nearby.

The idea for the video was simple: one long Steadicam shot, done by cinematographer Anastas Michos, A.S.C, who has since become one of the more famous directors of photography in the country. The camera wandered through the house, beginning with Betty and I performing the song in the front parlor, with me on a beautiful old grand piano. The shot continued into the kitchen, where a sax playing chef was playing his horn, on through the bedroom where a parrot sat on the bed. I guess the set dressers went a little crazy with  the “atmosphere” and had initially put up alot of voodoo-related objects. Betty, who is also a Reverend, took one look and said she could not sing in such a bad dark setting. After she had taken down the voodoo stuff and put up some pictures of Jesus, we went ahead and filmed the video.

We had alot of fun doing it, and we all went out later for a delicious Cajun dinner of blackened rabbit at Emeril’s.

To watch the video click HERE.

(Disclaimer: That Jean Paul Gaultier jacket I wore in the video was my A&R person Wendy Goldstein’s idea. It was her boyfriend’s and at the last minute before ther shoot she handed it to me and said “wear this”!)


© 2013 by Grayson Hugh

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