Jennifer Hudson sang her heart out at the Super Bowl Sunday in Tampa. And today, Jennifer Hudson's performance is being compared favorably to the emotional one delivered by Whitney Houston back in 1991 when the Super Bowl was also played in Tampa. Back then, the Gulf War had just begun and Houston's stirring rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" was released as a single and reached the top 20 on Billboard.
Yesterday at the Super Bowl marked Jennifer Hudson's first public appearance since the tragic deaths of her mother, Darnell Donerson, her brother Jason Hudson and nephew Julian King, who were murdered in their Chicago home Oct. 28. While there has been some hubbub surrounding the obvious fact that Jennifer Hudson lip-synced to a prerecorded track, that was at the request of musical director Rickey Minor.
Her presence and performance at the Super Bowl earned the 2006 Oscar winner ("Dreamgirls") rave reviews and could put her in the running for the Emmy Award for best individual performance in a variety special, if ruled eligible by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The extraordinary circumstances of her appearance might prove to be akin to Bette Midler winning that same Emmy in 1992 for singing Grammy record of the year "Wind Beneath My Wings" to Johnny Carson upon his retirement from "The Tonight Show." If ruled ineligible because this was a TV sports show, Hudson might still emerge a winner at the separate Sports Emmys.
Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said, "She began deliberately, then swung low to bring a chilling resonance to the word 'gleaming.' Though she stretched a few notes, she didn’t oversell the song or her voice. She reveled in its power. The final 'home of the brave' was a howitzer into the heavens." The New York Post thought she sounded "brillz" while the New York Daily News said, "Hudson redefined our national anthem last night as a statement of hope, faith and — yes — even a hint of defiance."
This coming Friday, Hudson will perform at Recording Academy's MusiCares Person of the Year gala honoring Neil Diamond. And next Sunday, she is set to perform live on the Grammy Awards, where she is competing with four nominations for her self-titled debut album.
Read more about how other Oscar winners fared singing at the Super Bowl in the past.