Jennifer Hudson

Academy Award-winning singer/actress Jennifer Hudson will perform live Thursday at the Wawa Welcome American July Fourth concert with the Philly POPS Big Band at the Party on the Parkway. — PHOTO: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

With no formal training, superstar Jennifer Hudson has managed to become a Grammy Award-winning recording artist, an Academy Award-winning actress, a best-selling author, and the winner of many other titles.

Hudson is a perfect example of how not winning the title of American Idol can actually be a boon to your career and not necessarily the end of all your dreams.

“And even though I didn't win, I felt it was a wonderful experience and helped jumpstart my career. In fact, I feel as though I've been on an 'American Idol' rollercoaster and I haven't gotten off since,” says the Chicago native.

Though armed with a basic belief in her talent, Hudson was thrilled and surprised when she learned she had won a Grammy. “But I was really shocked when I won the Oscar for ‘Dreamgirls,'’” she says. Tapped for the role of Effie White, Hudson won out over hundreds of other hopefuls for the amazing role that would mark her screen debut.

“My mother always told me I could do whatever I wanted to do. And I'll always remember someone once telling me that I was born a singer but God gave me the reward of acting,” she says.

Among her other trophies are three NAACP Image Awards — including one for Outstanding New Artist.

And now Hudson is gearing up to help celebrate the 2019 Wawa Welcome America July Fourth concert performing with the Philly POPS Big Band at the Party on the Parkway.

And even though she says she's been to Philly before but not for a long time, she's looking forward to coming back, especially on such a great day to help celebrate our nation's birthday.

And what a celebration it will turn out to be. Hudson says the party-goers will be hearing music from her own album, as well as songs like “Spotlight,” “Hallelujah” and “If This Isn't Love,” among others.

“I've always wanted to be a performer,” says the multi-talented Hudson. The youngest of three, she admits,“I grew up singing in a gospel choir, I acted in community theater, sang on cruise ships, and more. I fell in love with performing at the age of 7and knew this was what I was going to do.”

And although she's done many wonderful things as a performer, she confesses that her favorite role was most probably playing the role of Winnie Mandela in the 2011 biopic of Mandela's life.

Next up for Hudson will be her appearance in the biopic based on the life of Aretha Franklin, who was one of Hudson's early idols. Some of her other idols and inspirations growing up included Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, a '60s all-girl group who sang with Motown, and such superstars as Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke and many, many others.

And today, Hudson admits living out her dreams brings her the greatest joy.

”I do believe there's nothing better in the world than that. I love the arts. I love performing. I love singing. I love bringing people together. And I love being a part of all that,” she says.

With all Hudson has achieved, she says there's still a long way to go.

“I just want to have longevity and to keep going years and years from now,” she says.

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