Growing up on the south side of Chicago IL, Jennifer started singing in the church choir at the age of seven. For Jennifer, emoting inspirational gospel is the cornerstone of her beginnings as a talented singer, "the church is my favorite place to sing. My first solo was "Must Jesus Bare The Cross Alone." She attributes her vocal ability to her dear late maternal grandmother, Julia Kate Hudson, who was an avid churchgoer and also sang in the choir. Throughout grammar and high school, Jennifer cultivated & showcased her talent by participating in a host of local talent shows and musicals. During this time she also performed at various clubs, weddings and benefits in Chicago and surrounding areas
In the Fall of 2002 Jennifer successfully auditioned for one of the Disney Cruise ships and landed her first major role as "Calliope", the head muse on the "Disney Wonder" line the ran from February 2003 through August of 2003 Jennifer loved her time performing on the ship and considers herself a member of the Disney family and was thrilled to be able to do what she loves to do, stating, "singing for thousands of people, and to be paid to do this, its amazing!." Taking a leap of faith, Jennifer consciously decided not to renew her contract with Disney; instead she flew to Atlanta to audition for the Fox hit reality show, American Idol: Season 3 in August 2003.
Amongst 70,000 hopefuls Jennifer was a stand out choice as a top 12 competitor. She wowed the idol judges and viewers spanning across the globe with great performances of classic songs by icons such as Aretha Franklin & Whitney Houston. As judge Randy Jacksons Wild Card pick, Jennifers journey with American Idol accelerated her to the 7th position. Viewer response to her early departure was quite controversial and unprecedented and sent shockwaves across America as well as unleashing a torrent of criticism about the idol voting process. During her time in the "Top 12", she received high praise from some of musics biggest industry legends. Sir Elton John was quoted as saying she was "the best of the lot". The deep, rich, powerful, classic texture of Jennifer Hudsons voice continues to touch everyone that hears her sing. In response to hearing Jennifers incredible range during the competition preparation for his very own classic, "Weekend In New England" Barry Manilow stated "My catalog of songs requires that you have range, you cannot do what Jennifer is doing, she takes it to a whole other level.". Movie director Quentin Tarentino was also enchanted by hearing Jennifers powerful rendition of the Whitney Houston song "I Have Nothing" from the mega hit soundtrack "The Bodyguard". Quentin states "Hudson takes on Houston and WINS!" Although Jennifer did not win the idol crown she left an indelible mark on the music industry and viewers across the world
After the show ended the top 10 finalists embarked on a 48 city tour and Jennifer received critical praise for her performances from many of the local newspapers covering the event. Being voted off was an initial disappointment but reaction to her departure yielded much unprecedented coverage that includes a duet with Barry Manilow on "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" who also invited her to sing on tour with him, heavy spotlighting from Entertainment Tonight & other entertainment news intrigued to interview Jennifer as well as a guest spot on David Lettermans Top 10 List. Of her idol experience Jennifer has this to say, "I have learned a lot," she said. "It's been the biggest experience of my life. "It's just a blessing from God to just be able to use my talent to make my living - to be on American Idol and be on stage."
Post "Idol" life for Jennifer Hudson has been very rewarding. She has performed at several important benefit concerts, including a performance in the hit Broadway musical "Hair". Jennifer makes it no secret that she has a strong interest in the stage and has received rave reviews from established stage performers after her stand out delivery of "Easy To Be Hard", which she has recorded for an ensemble cast HAIR benefit album, due for release in early 2005. Ms. Hudson was also invited to perform at an event in her hometown along side such notable acts as Destinys Child, Kanye West and others. Jennifer debuted an original song entitled "Stand Up", which has since been strongly supported & requested on radio and has already created a buzz on the internet.
With a 5 octave range, Jennifer has been compared to legendary voices such as Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, and Jennifer Holiday. What you heard from Jennifer on American Idol was only a sliver of her vocal ability. Listeners should be excited to hear what she has to offer. Jennifers voice is a throwback to powerful old school performers. Back when singers could sang. There is a duality in Jennifers voice that listeners will find very pleasing. She has the prowess to deliver an old soul classic but can just as easily woo you with a big power ballad that made many of todays musical stars famous. Fans will be pleased to know that Jennifer has been very involved and hands on in the process of recording and writing her long awaited CD, targeted for a release date of spring/summer 2007. Also Jennifer has landed the leading role as Effie White in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls which is slated to be released in Dec 06. So who needs the title of the American Idol when you have a legend in the making?