American recording artist and actress Jennifer Hudson will release her third studio album on 22 September, entitled JHUD. With an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Grammy to her name, it’s easy to imagine that Jennifer Hudson has been an unstoppable singing and acting icon for all of her career. But everyone has to start somewhere and it was as an idol, on the singing competition show, American Idol, that Hudson burst into the public’s consciousness.

Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson took a chance on American Idol and got through to the live shows

Of course, appearing on a contest such as American Idol and British versions including The X Factor doesn’t automatically provide you with a steadfast career in the music and entertainment industry, even if you are good.

Many favourites from The X Factor have faded in audiences’ memories: who’s Steve Brookstein, where is Shayne Ward, what has Leon Jackson done recently and what’s happened to Joe McElderry? Equally, American Idol has not provided a superstar every series.

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Jennifer Hudson appeared on season three of the show and was controversially eliminated in the top seven results show, leaving Fantasia Barrino to take home the winner’s crown a few shows later. Fortunately for Hudson, her popularity has only increased since her shock exit and The Los Angeles Times named her the third greatest American Idol after season one’s winner, Kelly Clarkson, and season four’s winner, Carrie Underwood.

Hudson’s main breakthrough role came when she won the part of Effie White in the 2006 film, Dreamgirls, a character that catapulted her into the international sphere and from which she received 29 awards from film critics. 

Entertainment Weekly put her performance on its end-of-the-decade best-of list with the explanation: "Sure, Beyoncé’s performance was great. And Eddie Murphy’s was impressive. But there was really only one reason we all rushed to see 2006’s Dreamgirls: Jennifer Hudson’s soul-to-the-rafters rendition of the classic And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going’. When she sang ‘You’re gonna love me’, it wasn’t just a lyric - it was a fact."

Jennifer Hudson
The Academy Award winner has come a long way since her younger days singing in a church choir

From that moment, Hudson was on fire starring in a number of films including Sex and the City, The Secret Life of Bees, and as the lead character in the biopic of South African activist and politician, Winnie Mandela.

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Hudson released her debut studio album, Jennifer Hudson, in 2008 which included hit singles such as Spotlight and If This Isn’t Love.

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