Jennifer Hudson American Idol: 20 Years Ago She Auditioned for the Judges

Jennifer Hudson American Idol 2004

Jennifer Hudson notes the 20th anniversary of her American Idol audition

On Sunday August 20, Jennifer Hudson celebrated a very special anniversary. Twenty years ago, a young hopeful singer auditioned in front of the American Idol judges.

“It was on this very day in 2003 that my best friend @wallybean1 and I traveled all the way to Atlanta, Georgia for my American Idol audition!.” Jennifer wrote alongside a clip of the audition. “20 years, yal! Look at God !! I hopped on that American Idol roller coaster and it has been going ever since! I’ve lived a lot of life since that day, but I’m still that same girl from the South Side of Chicago trying to get to my goals ! Thank u all for being on this journey with me!”

Paula Abdul, Jennifer Hudson on Why Simon Cowell has Mellowed

Only 21 years old at the time, judges Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell were skeptical that a Disney Cruise ship singer could meet their high standards. But after she belted out a rendition of Aretha Franklin’s “Share Your Love With Me,” they changed their minds.

“Brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” Randy gushed afterward. “Absolutely the best singer I’ve heard so far.” Paula added, “No doubt about it, you can sing your behind off!” Jennifer received three yeses. “See you in Hollywood,” said Simon.

American Idol Reunion: Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson, Michael Orland!

Still, Jennifer had to fight her way into the Top 12. She sang in the same semi-final group as eventual winner and runner-up, Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo respectively, who both advanced via viewer vote to the next round. After singing again in the wild card round, Randy picked her to move on to the finals.

Simon Cowell Praises Jennifer Hudson: “I’m Getting Emotional!”

Simon never warmed up to her. He criticized Jennifer so much that he apologized to her later after her success proved him wrong. She left the show in a shocking 7th place finish. But leaving Idol early didn’t hold her back.

Jennifer earned rare EGOT status after winning a Tony Award

Eventually she was cast as Effie White in the screen adaption of the Broadway musical, Dreamgirls. The role earned her a 2007 Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG Award for Best Supporting actress. Dreamgirls served as Jennifer’s breakthrough role, and from there she signed a record deal with RCA and won a Grammy for her 2009 album, Jennifer Hudson, a daytime Emmy award in 2021 for producing the video Baba Yaga. And then, the award that made her the 17th EGOT, a Tony in 2022 for producing the Broadway musical A Strange Loop.

And in a full circle moment, Aretha herself handpicked Jennifer to portray her in a biopic, Respect, which came out in 2021.

Currently, she hosts her own daytime talk show, The Jennifer Hudson Show, which was renewed for season 2.

Take that Simon!

About mj santilli 35048 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!