Jennifer Hudson’s Trailblazing Career: From ‘American Idol’ to ‘Respect’

Justin Jenkins
Lauren Ashley Beck
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Jennifer Hudson’s American Idol journey was like none other. Now her career has become what legends are made of. When she first walked into our living rooms she was a soft spoken 22 year old. Although she had a gentle speaking voice, once she sang her rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Share Your Love With Me,” the singer showed just how powerful her singing voice could be.


Hudson’s audition was short, but sweet. During her time on American Idol she quickly became a fan favorite. Hudson reminded viewers of the days when singers like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey belted out great ballads.

When Hudson was eliminated during the Top 7 episode of American Idol the judges as well as the viewers were shocked. The singer was a frontrunner for most of her season, but failed to garner enough votes to stay. We all thought we heard the last of Hudson. The singer returned to the spotlight in 2006, two years after her shocking Idol exit. Since reemerging the singer has become one of the top entertainers in Hollywood.

Let’s take a look at some facts about the multi-talented performer.


Jennifer Hudson the Disney Cruise Performer

Before the singer walked into her American Idol audition she was a performer on a Disney cruise line. Hudson has said that she used her experience performing on the high seas as a stepping stone to get onto the Idol stage. During her time on the cruise she performed songs from the movies Hercules and The Lion King. Guests were left speechless after every performance of “Circle of Life.” On Idol, Hudson told judge Randy Jackson that her audition will be better than what is expected on a cruise ship. She did not disappoint.

Hudson’s Oscar Moment

Two years after Hudson was eliminated on Season 3 of American Idol the singer came back with a vengeance. Hudson beat out Idol Season 3 winner Fantasia and others to win the role of Effie White in the musical Dreamgirls. The singer was revolutionary in the role. Hudson went on to rack up every major acting award for her portrayal, including the coveted Oscar Award. She became just the third Black actress to win in the Best Supporting Actress category.

You Better Work!

Not many people know this, but Hudson was the first African-American singer to grace the cover of Vogue magazine. In 2007 during her breakout year the singer turned into a supermodel for the fashion giant. Hudson’s cover was seen as ambitious for an industry that usually doesn’t recognize women of a certain size.


Broadway Bound

Hudson is only one letter away from joining the elite EGOT club. There are only a select few entertainers who have won every major award across different entertainment industries. Hudson has received at least one Emmy, Grammy, and Oscar award. To finish her accession into the upper rankings of entertainment, Hudson will need to win a Tony. The singer was close to winning the award when she made her Broadway debut in The Color Purple Musical. Unfortunately, The Idol alum was snubbed once the 2020 Tony nominations were announced.

Hudson Served as a Coach on ‘The Voice’

Many talent show competition fans know that Hudson served as a coach on Seasons 13 and 15 of The Voice. The singer also served as a coach on Seasons 6 through 8 on The Voice UK. When news broke that Hudson would be joining The Voice franchise fans saw that as a way for Hudson to separate herself from American Idol. Many thought she would have joined the Idol since there was an ever-revolving door of judges. Hudson brought her love for music and deep connection to amazing singers to The Voice. Oftentimes she would throw her shoe on a contestant who impressed her. The singer never hesitated to belt out a song every now and again.

Hudson’s Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The singer was the first American Idol contestant to receive the honor of having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hudson was acknowledged for her contribution to music and film. The entertainer was the 2,512th star on the famous strip.

Full Circle Moment

Hudson’s career is like none other. When the fresh-faced singer walked into that first Idol audition and performed Franklin’s “Share Your Love With Me,” she had no clue that she would be hand-picked by the queen of soul to portray her in a movie. Two decades later Hudson has received rave reviews for playing the iconic music superstar in Respect. The role recently won her the 2022 NAACP Entertainer of the Year Award and Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture.

Hudson’s Music Roots

Through all of the accolades and her Hollywood takeover, Hudson has never lost sight of her musical roots. The singer has sold over 1 million albums world wide and has won two Grammys. The singer has kept music close to her heart even when she appeared in multiple film adaptations of musicals. Recently Hudson was featured on Robert Glasper’s “Out of My Hands.” The single is currently climbing the charts.

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