Keegan-Michael Key, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jim Belushi and Rachel Ray are among the dozens of stars who appear in a new ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ COVID-19 Artists Relief Video released today. The cast members, all of whom got their start in the Windy City, contributed footage of themselves singing, dancing and playing along to the song in their homes.
Behind the scenes
Chicago’s HMS Media mixed and edited the final version of the video, which serves as a tribute to Chicago’s legendary arts scene and an encouragement for viewers to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund.
“For me, it’s all about feeding the heart and the soul of this city and state and country and the world,” says HMS co-founder and executive producer Scott Silberstein. “The arts have an annual economic impact on Chicago’s Loop of $2.25 billion. Students perform better when arts are part of the curriculum. Veterans with PTSD find paths to healing through the arts."
"And for my money, Chicago has the greatest theater scene in the country," he added.
Silberstein and HMS co-founder Matt Hoffman, both of whom have won multiple Emmy Awards, teamed up with “About Last Night” producer Jason Brett and “Ensemble” author Mark Larson to get the project rolling.
The first step required them to convince dozens of Chicago-connected artists to record themselves singing to an instrumental version of the song at home.
“Everybody said yes,” recalled Silberstein. “Jason immediately reached out to Jim Belushi, and he immediately hopped on board. I reached out to Jessie Mueller, who won the Tony for her portrayal of Carole King in “Beautiful,” and she hopped right on board as well.”
The video includes clips of tap-dancers from Chicago’s M.A.D. Rhythms organization juxtaposed with ballet moves by company members from The Joffrey. Musician, singer, songwriter and Greater Chicago native Jim Peterik — whose list of hits include “Vehicle” for Ides of March and “Eye of the Tiger” for Survivor — provides audio and video of himself (and his purple hair) performing the track’s guitar solo.