She is perhaps the most famous runner-up in music history. Her life story reads like a Hollywood movie – full of unexpected triumph and unparalleled tragedy. Yet the story of Jennifer Hudson is ultimately one of triumph over adversity. Jennifer Kate Hudson was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Born into a church family, she soon found that she was possessed with a gift from God – that of a stupendous vocal talent. She was already signed to a local label when she auditioned for “American Idol” but was let out of her contract to go on the show in 2004.
While Hudson would ultimately be eliminated and the ultimate winner, Fantasia would go on to a recording and acting career, at first Hudson languished, returning to the Disney cruises where she’d been singing when she auditioned. In late 2005, Hudson prevailed in the search for a singer/actress to play the Effie White role in the movie version of the hit stage play “Dreamgirls.” In a Hollywood-like turnaround the previously marginalized singer was not only the breakout star of the film she scored a record deal as well. She would eventually win an Oscar for her debut film and score a Grammy for her self-titled debut album.
Sadly, just as Hudson was enjoying these achievements, a triple murder rocked her family. In 2008, her mother, brother and nephew were shot and killed. Her sister’s estranged husband, William Balfour, was accused of and eventually convicted of the murders. Hudson took a break from performing but made a triumphant return to the Grammy stage the next year singing the song “You Pulled Me Through.”
Hudson has continued her successful ways, losing over 60 pounds using Weight Watchers and becoming their spokesperson, as well as having her firstborn son, David Daniel Otunga, Jr. with fiancée David Otunga, a Harvard law graduate turned reality TV star and professional wrestler. Hudson’s second CD “I Remember Me” was released to critical acclaim in 2011.
After her humiliating exit on “American Idol” Hudson rebounded to become one of it’s most successful alumni ever. Her gorgeous, soaring vocals have made her one of the music industry’s most significant talents and she’s retained a toehold in acting as well. Hudson’s future is as bright as her voice and indeed, when it comes to a talent like hers, there’s no telling what will come next. She is among the best of this generation and her accomplishments thus far are just a taste of what she can do. We look forward to more from this homegrown talent who didn’t give up when things looked bleak.