From a runner-up on the third season of the American Idol to a household name, Jennifer Hudson is well known for musical talents, whether it be her career as an artist or as a judge on shows like The Voice. Does her musical ability also extend to the ability to play an instrument like the piano?
Jennifer Hudson can play the piano, as she stated in an interview that she had been taking lessons. Her inspiration to pick up and learn a new instrument was largely thanks to Aretha Franklin.
It wouldn’t have been too surprising to learn that Hudson plays the piano, but finding out that she only does so because of the legendary Aretha Franklin adds an interesting twist. So, how exactly does Franklin connect to Hudson and her newfound desire to play the piano?.
Though she has proven her talent for acting on multiple occasions now, Jennifer Hudson’s first love that she demonstrated to the world was her singing. That gift turned her into a star during the late 2000s and beyond.
As with any multi-talented and driven individual, it’s sometimes hard to keep up with whatever new pursuit has taken their fancy. In the case of Hudson, one of the things that grabbed her attention was the idea of playing the piano.
The seed of desire to learn the piano was planted not because of Hudson’s music career, or any desire to heavily implement the instrument into her own body of work. It was actually born of her second career, her career as an actress.
A Musicians Respect
Hudson was cast in the movie Respect, a biopic documenting the life of Aretha Franklin. Franklin was a singer, songwriter, actress, activist, and more importantly for our question, a pianist.
Hudson wouldn’t be playing the role of a secondary or tertiary character, she was set to assume the mantle of Franklin herself. Since music was so important to Franklin, especially playing the piano, it set Hudson on a voyage of musical discovery.
Everyone who has any deep interest in music, especially as it relates to some of the most influential figures in American culture, will know who Aretha Franklin is. Hudson was likely already well aware of exactly what Franklin contributed, but taking a deeper dive into who she was and the things that she loved granted Hudson a new perspective.
During the shooting of Respect, this new perspective led Hudson to attempt to pick up Franklin’s signature instrument, the piano. She had never played the instrument before, so the first step of her journey in learning to play was to get back into music school.
The First Pick
On one hand, it might seem more fitting that a musician who was already a talented pianist might make more sense to have filled the starring role. The casting decision didn’t just come from the director with their own vision, it came from Franklin herself, who hand-picked Hudson for the role.
During the interview, Hudson understandably describes Franklin’s larger-than-life persona and achievements to be “huge shoes to fill.” She’s not wrong, either, as Franklin’s accolades are too numerous to list, but Hudson clearly took it very seriously.
The fact that her respect for Franklin extended even further beyond who she was as a woman, and delved into one of the components that made her who she was as an artist, just goes to show the kind of gravity that Hudson was lending the entire situation.
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to mention Hudson and gloss over the instrument that she is truly gifted with, which is her vocal pipes. She has cemented a career for herself together with her voice, which is up there with the most powerful female vocalists.
It’s the gift she has that has made her such a star attraction on shows like The Voice, where she assumes the role of a judge whose opinion and understanding of what makes a singer great is rightfully given a great deal of credence.
Her appeal is so extensive that she has not only been a judge on the American version of the show but also took a trip over to the UK to star on their domestic version of the show. Perhaps with enough practice, it won’t be long before one of the shows she stars in sees her fingers dancing on some piano keys.