I’m supposed to meet Huff at 10 a.m. at his sister Becky’s place. Around 9, he calls me on his new cell phone to say there’s been a change of plans: His “music guy” wants him in Chinatown by 11. There’s a New York–bound bus to catch. Something about a record contract. Terry Huff still wants to make it big.
They’re queuing for the bus when I arrive. Huff, sporting new sunglasses, greets me with a grin. “My brother! It’s good to see you,” he says.
Huff’s music guy, who is less happy to see me, is Dana Mozie, a hip-hop impresario who’s brushed shoulders with Diddy, Salt ’n’ Pepa, and Michael Jackson. More recently, he’s known as the GOP’s “hip-hop ambassador.” (He did urban outreach for the Bush White House). Mozie has been trying to get Terry a comeback for a couple years now.
“I want to do an upgrade of his style into today’s style, today’s R&B,” Mozie says. “I just wanted to take his voice and put it in the mix so people could fall in love with it again. Give him his last opportunity to be in on some other projects—kind of get his props.”
The bus lurches down H Street NW and eventually north, to the city where Huff recorded with Van McCoy, where Johnny Boy Katsouros dressed him in a bright green tux and told him to go out and charm the world, where he used to turn up in a ’61 Seville. As he boarded, Huff looked like a star: dark glasses, wide smile—an elder statesman of R&B unconcerned with his own demise.
It almost doesn’t matter that there wasn’t a record deal, after all. Mozie just showed Huff around—the Puerto Rican street parade, a quick stop in Chinatown, a spin around Times Square.
They even made time for a visit to the Apollo.