By Kgali Tshabalala
Jennifer Hudson released her debut album in 2008 after her success on American Idols and the multi-award winning film Dreamgirls. Although she came in seventh place on American Idols, Hudson is testament to the fact that when one door opens, another (or plenty in her case) is sure to open.
The most striking feature when looking at the album sleeve is the emphasis on herself with her pictures and her name donning herself-titled album. The same theme resonates throughout the album with songs sung from an explicitly personal viewpoint. Many of the songs, such as Giving Myself and And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going reflect an emotion in her voice that cannot be mistaken as superficial. Despite all of the songs being written by other songwriters, Hudson is able to pull off the songs as her own with her powerful vocals.
While many songs are emotional and deeply personal, there are others that have catchy beats and fun vocals such as her duet with Ludacris, Pocketbook. Catchy lyrics like ‘don’t make me hit you with my pocketbook’ immediately make the listener want to sing and dance to the song at the same time.
The album features rappers T-Pain and Ludacris as well as fellow American Idol contestant, Fantasia on What’s Wrong, Pocketbook and I’m His Only Woman respectively. One can argue that while still good, these songs are the let-down to the album with her powerful vocals not brought across, possibly to accommodate the featured artists. This would not be the first time Hudson would have had to consider her fellow artists after allegedly being told by producers to tone down her voice in the making of Dreamgirls in order not to upstage lead character Beyoncé.
Hudson’s Arista Records offering collected her two nominations at the 2009 Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for her Billboard Hot 100 song Spotlight, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for I’m His Only Woman as well as the award for Best R&B Album. She was also nominated at the 2007 Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards for Best Female R&B Artist and won the Best New Artist award.
Overall, the illustrious Hudson can owe the success of her album to her ability to connect with her audience with powerful vocals, catchy beats and intimate lyrics- all essential elements for the girl with the perfect voice to conquer the world!