Best known for her role as Effie White in the 2006 film version of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, vocalist/actress Jennifer Hudson was first brought to the public's attention while a contestant on the third season of American Idol. Born in 1981 in Chicago, Illinois, Hudson sang from a young age, first performing in her church. Various talent shows and school musical productions followed until she eventually secured a role in a local Chicago production of the musical Big River. Prior to auditioning for American Idol, Hudson also sang professionally while working on the Disney Wonder cruise ship.
In 2004, she auditioned for and won a spot on the third season of American Idol along with eventual winner Fantasia Barrino. Though a strong contender and fan favorite from the start, Hudson would eventually become the sixth of the 12 finalists to get voted off the show. Ironically, after the show ended, there was speculation that Barrino would get the coveted role of Effie in the film version of Dreamgirls. However, Hudson won the role and went on to receive not only critical acclaim for her performance, but also both a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Her debut album, Jennifer Hudson, was delayed after the shocking murders of her mother, brother, and nephew by her brother-in-law, but finally materialized on Arista in September 2008, led by the Top Ten R&B/Hip-Hop single "Spotlight." The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and eventually went gold.
In March 2011, Hudson delivered her second studio album I Remember Me, a relatively upbeat release featuring the R. Kelly-penned single "Where You At." It debuted at number two as well, but didn't sell nearly as well as the debut. Unlike the many pop artists who churned out an album a year, Hudson continued to focus as much on her acting career as on music, appearing in a number of big-budget feature films including Sex & the City, The Secret Life of Bees, Winnie Mandela, The Three Stooges, and Lullaby. As a result, another three years passed between Hudson albums. Her third full-length, the groove-heavy JHUD, was released in September 2014 with contributions from the likes of R. Kelly, Iggy Azalea, Timbaland, Pharrell, and Danja. ~ Matt Collar