I never really expected to hear a mashup of Wicked the musical and Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, but now that I have, I’ll never go back. Michael Korte, the mind behind “#HAM4BEY” and the popular Sister Act 2 medley, recently brought a new group of artists — Avery Wilson, Brooke Simpson, Candice Boyd, George Lovett, Pia Toscano, and Sheléa — together to honor one of music’s greatest icons and Broadway’s biggest musicals. Korte told POPSUGAR, this project has been on the top of his mind for years.
“I have wanted to tackle #WICKED4WHITNEY since the release of my first ever music video creation #HAM4BEY!” he explained. “There was something terrifying about the vision — driving that fear was the necessity to do Whitney Houston justice. My creative partner and friend, Jared Jenkins, did the entire arrangement for this piece and it is because of him that these two completely different worlds were able to mesh so beautifully.”
The video tackles challenging tracks like Houston’s “How Will I Know” and Wicked‘s “Defying Gravity,” but these singers make the vocals look effortless. Korte said it took “months” to find the right performers for this project. “I knew there were very few singers that could serve Whitney caliber vocals but also be willing to tackle the spirit and deliver the narrative of the Wicked,” he said. “It all started in fantasy (think fantasy football but for Broadway) then began the process of asking (sometimes begging) these artists to buy into my crazy vision.”
None of the singers involved come from a Broadway background, but as Sheléa told POPSUGAR, Wicked presented a welcome “new challenge” to bring “soulfulness” and “the spirit of Whitney” to Wicked‘s soundtrack. Her favorite part? Getting to be the Elphaba to Boyd’s Glinda in a unique way. “It’s just that reconciliation and restoring that relationship and having that understanding as two women, especially in this month, March, this is Women’s History Month,” she said. “I thought that was such a beautiful moment. At first, we’re at each other’s throats loathing and then by the end, ‘because I knew you, I have been forever changed for good.’ I just loved that full-circle moment.”
Korte said he’ll walk away from this project feel triumphant in what they were able to accomplish. “Bringing together some of the most ridiculously talented artists in the world. The privilege to honor one of the greatest voices of all time and one of the greatest musicals of all time. Seeing through a dream that was years in the making.” Watch the full mashup, above.