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Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin Share ‘the Anointing,’ Mary J. Blige Says in ‘Respect’ Featurette

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In a new featurette, viewers get a closer look at the process award-winning singer and actress Jennifer Hudson underwent in order to embody the Queen of Soul in the upcoming film “Respect,” set to release on August 13.

Directed by Liesl Tommy and starring Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Tituss Burgess, and Mary J. Blige, “Respect” follows the life and career of the legendary Aretha Franklin. According to the featurette, Franklin requested Hudson by name to play the role. The two had previously worked and sung together before Franklin passed away in 2018 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76.

Aretha Franklink Jennifer Hudson Respect Movie
(L-R) Henry Riggs stars as Tommy Cogbill, Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, Hailey Kilgore as Carolyn Franklin, Saycon Sengbloh as Erma Franklin, Alec Barnes as Jimmy Johnson, John Giorgio as Chips Moman, Marc Maron as Jerry Wexler and Joe Knezevich as Tom Dowd in “Respect.” (Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/MGM Pictures Inc.)

“To see it actually manifest and for her to choose me is … I can’t even begin to put it into words. I do not take it lightly,” Hudson said on “Good Morning America” when the movie’s trailer was released last month. “It’s a dream come true.”

The short, behind-the-scenes look at the film includes commentary from Blige, Whitaker, music producers Stephen Bray and Jason Michael Webb, and screenwriter Tracey Scott Wilson.

“She has that thing in her voice like Aretha has in her voice, the anointing,” Blige says of Hudson. “She can sing anything.”

Tommy, the director, commented that both Franklin and Hudson had been “given the gift of that sound.”

An undeniable part of Franklin’s transformation into the trailblazer that she became was the heavy gospel presence in her music. Franklin “revolutionized” the gospel genre, pastor and recording artist Donnie McClurkin previously told Faithfully Magazine.

“Aretha’s gospel sound is intrinsic in everything that she did. It is the backdrop of American music, ” McClurkin said, adding that she infused her gospel sound into every genre she touched. “Her playing the piano, the notes, the riff, the whole approach, it was key to how she became this iconic figure for six decades. That gospel flair is what made Aretha, Aretha.”

respect aretha franklin movie poster
(Credit: MGM)

Hudson released the official visualizer to an original song as a tribute to Franklin on Friday, titled “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home).”

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Evana D. Upshaw
Evana D. Upshaw
Evana D. Upshaw is Faithfully Magazine's 2021 Editorial Fellow and a junior journalism student at Biola University. Evana loves discussing the Christian church's role in social justice, learning about how history has shaped our world, and telling stories. Evana currently lives in Baltimore with her mom, dad, and two younger brothers. You can find her on Twitter @EvanaUpshaw.


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