While the Oscars are referred to as the Super Bowl of entertainment, that football one has a surprising (and long-running) connection to the awardsfest. This year the NFL has enlisted Jennifer Hudson, the best supporting actress of 2006, to sing the national anthem at the Feb. 1 festivities in Tampa, Fla. This will be the first public appearance for the "Dreamgirls" star since her mother Darnell Donerson, brother Jason Hudson, and nephew Julian King were murdered in their Chicago home Oct. 28.
Expect Hudson's performance to equal the emotional one delivered by Whitney Houston back in 1991 when the Super Bowl was played (also in Tampa) against the backdrop of the start of the first Gulf War. Houston's performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" was released as a single and reached the top 20 on Billboard. The following year, Houston made her movie debut in "The Bodyguard" but did not sing the two Oscar-nominated songs — "I Have Nothing" and "Run to You" — at the 1993 Oscars, leaving the warbling to Natalie Cole. Houston did appear on the 1999 show to duet on the Oscar-winning power ballad "When You Believe" from "The Prince of Egypt" with Mariah Carey. However, the following year, the troubled singer was bounced from the Oscar lineup just hours before the show and replaced by Faith Hill for a medley of songs.
Another Oscar winner, Bruce Springsteen, will be performing during the half-time show this year. Springsteen won his Oscar in 1993 for the song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." He was nominated two years later for the title song of "Dead Man Walking" but lost to "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas." Springsteen could well be a nominee again this year for his Golden Globe-winning title track for "The Wrestler."
Hudson will not be the first Oscar winner to sing at the Super Bowl. Back in 1999, Cher — the 1987 best actress winner for "Moonstruck" — performed the national anthem. The following year, Phil Collins appeared in the half-time show just weeks before winning an Oscar for the song "You'll Be In My Heart" from "Tarzan." In 2005, Paul McCartney performed in the half-time show. He, along with the other three Beatles — George Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr — won the 1970 original song score Oscar for "Let It Be." And Prince, the 1984 song score winner for "Purple Rain," performed in the 2007 half-time show.
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L.A. Times Photo by Al Selb