Rufus Wainwright reinterpreted Stevie Wonder‘s Motown soul classic “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” as an elegant piano ballad for L.A. charity The Art of Elysium‘s recent fundraising gala, HEAVEN, honoring Wonder. In director Andrew Ondrejcak’s graceful, black-and-white video, Wainwright and another man dance with a series of partners before winding up together again.
The clip – based on the dance scene from Federico Fellini’s 1963 masterpiece, 8 1/2, and the 1987 play La Ronde (The Round) – glimmers like an old Hollywood musical, with moody lighting and classy choreography by Katherine Helen Fisher.
The video, which unfolds in one continuous shot, featured in Ondrejcak’s video series with The Art of Elysium’s new philanthropic production company and video streaming platform, Elysium Bandini Studios. The project, which also included James Franco, John Legend and Zoe Saldana, tasked artists to perform unique versions of Wonder’s iconic 1970 single. The results ranged in mood from celebratory to downtrodden – which, for Wainwright, reflects the subtle complexity of the original tune.
“‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours’ is one of the great happy/sad hits of all times,” Wainwright said in a statement. “If you listen to the lyrics, they are both gloomy and touching, but with a really up melody. Unfortunately, it’s not a duality often mastered in this day and age.”
Wainwright debuted his cover version Thursday at the Elysium Art Salons during an event hosted by EBS founder Jennifer Howell.
The Art of Elysium, which promotes “using art as a catalyst for social change,” offers arts programs for hospitalized youth, special needs education centers, homeless shelters, elder care homes and hospice care facilities.
Last month, Wainwright unveiled plans for an eclectic fan experience, “Wainwright Libre,” in Havana, Cuba. The four-night September event will include two private concerts, a solo show and a public event with a full orchestra and local musicians.