Walking with Ann Louden after a TCU Frogs for the Cure video shoot feels like walking with a celebrity.
As we head from the quad at TCU’s Brown-Lupton Universitty Union, where about 2,000 people have just been doing a dance number, to a place inside that’s quieter and cooler, people stop Louden — the chairwoman of TCU Frogs for the Cure — to ask questions or to thank her for her work on breast-cancer awareness. When she’s not being stopped, she stops to pick up trash, even the smallest pieces of litter. As we talk inside the center, there are occasional interruptions from other people who want to talk about the video.
This is the 11th year for TCU Frogs for the Cure, which works with Susan G. Komen Greater Fort Worth, Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth and the Moncrief Cancer Institute to raise breast-cancer awareness and increase education. It’s the sixth year that the organization has done a music video, and each year, the clips get a little more elaborate.
“For me, to make [the video] more difficult and challenging every year is part of the goal,” says Louden, herself a breast-cancer survivor. “So I don’t think it gets easier in the sense of production, or the victories that I have to have to make it interesting with artists and music and numbers of people. I think maybe what gets easier is that more and more people know what it’s about, and so the brand is established, and that gets me in the door quicker.”
Previous videos have featured Tim Halperin, who was attending TCU when he competed on season 10 of American Idol; Fort Worth-bred, now-retired CBS newsman Bob Schieffer; and even singer Josh Groban, who introduced the 2014 video, which featured his song Brave.
“Last year we did a national focus [with Groban], and that allowed me to get places that I never would have dreamed,” Louden says. The video was filmed in Fort Worth, New York, Chicago, the Los Angeles area and Washington, D.C., and visiting all those areas helped Louden bring more attention to both TCU and Frogs for the Cure.
People.com and Buzzfeed have both run articles about this year’s video, which features Fort Worth’s Luke Wade and singer Mia Zanotti, both alumni of NBC’s The Voice, doing a cover of the Ashford & Simpson-written classic Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Wade and Zanotti weren’t on the TCU campus for the Fort Worth portion of the video shoot, though. They’ve already shot their scenes in Los Angeles, and dancers from the Washington National Ballet and a D.C.-based dance company have filmed mountaintop scenes in Montana. (Wade and Zanotti’s version of the song, made famous by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and later Diana Ross, was released Tuesday on iTunes — you can download it here.)
As it turned out, both Zanotti — who sings professionally as Mia Z. — and Wade had breast-cancer stories.
“Her mom writes music for her — she’s an arranger and her rehearsal artist — and her mom’s piano teacher, who’s a man, had breast cancer and died,” Louden says. “Mia’s grandmother also had breast cancer. When Luke and I had already started this journey, Luke’s manager had a scare, so I contacted my surgeon in Dallas and sent her to Dallas. She came out with a great answer, which was, it’s a scare and that was it.”
For the 2015 video, Louden was considering It’s a Wonderful World as well as Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, but faced a challenge with the licensing for both. She opted for Ain’t No Mountain because it was more danceable, and began negotiating with Sony New York — which said yes, but wanted Frogs for the Cure to pay $13,000 for the rights to the song for a year. Weeks of negotiating brought the price down to $850.
“We signed the contract, and then three days later, they told me that they had to renege on the rights of the song because anotherw company had an exclusive on it,” Louden says. But Wade had already signed on, and she didn’t want to lose the song. After four days of negotiations and with the help of a friend in Nashville who had connections with Sony New York, Louden secured the rights.
(When she thought she might lose Ain’t No Mountain, she considered using the Beach Boys’ God Only Knows as a backup — and was granted a quick yes by Brian Wilson. But she stayed with her first choice when negotiations worked out.)
The section of the vdeo filmed Sunday features sponsors, members of various TCU organizations and breast-cancer survivors doing a fairly simple choreographed dance that, thanks to some helicopter shots, will look like a pink breast-cancer ribbon in the video.
Past video shoots have included local celebrities such as Mark Cuban, Pat Green and KXAS/Channel 5’s Deborah Ferguson (who will be master of ceremonies at Frogs for the Cure’s “Feed Your Pink Side” luncheon), but Louden says that whether she invites them to participate depends on the complexity of the dance number for the video.
“This year, because we were shooting in the mountaintop setting and the L.A. setting and then here, where we needed lots of people to make that ribbon, it was hard to get people of that ilk,” Louden says. “I’ve been very careful about how I’ve done that. The flash-mob year , we had 23 celebrities here.”
The video will premiere Oct. 29 during halftime of the annual Frogs for the Cure game, which will pit TCU against West Virginia. The game will be at 6:30 p.m. at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth.