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5 Things I Discovered Working with Jennifer Hudson

Sharleen backstage with Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer was so down to earth, funny, and beautiful that she helped me to feel a sense of gratitude – says Sharleen Linton.

The first time I worked with Jennifer was the Palladium TV show in April 2017. We had rehearsed the day before without her but today I knew she’d join us for the soundcheck.

The rest of the girls and I were poised on stage for our camera rehearsal. In-ear monitors were plugged in and I was behind my microphone. And then she arrives. She was armed with the classic singers’ remedy – hot tea.

The rehearsal began. I can’t describe the feeling of hearing that classic voice that gave me goosebumps as I watched Dream Girls. That performance which won Jennifer that Academy Award.

That voice I could hear live and direct in my in-ear monitors. And not because I was listening to a recording. She was a few feet away from me. I was singing with THE Jennifer Hudson.

I didn’t want to get distracted even though it was hard not to. I could sense she wasn’t even pushing that hard. She was giving about 25% in that rehearsal and still slaying. Craziness.

After we finished rehearsing I had to introduce myself and tell her how amazing I thought she looked. I can’t help it. If a woman looks great, I’ll always tell her. She replied with a very animated and exuberant ‘yes honey, I told myself “they gon’ see me!’” And she was right. We saw her.

As we chatted afterward, she told me she’d been traveling from country to country promoting her single and she could barely remember where she was. I knew she was feeling jet lagged and dehydrated and more than likely disorientated although she didn’t complain.

We went on to do the Graham Norton show and got to do a quick vocal rehearsal in her dressing room before the show. She was warm and down to earth. It’s so lovely when people you love from afar are actually nice people in real life

During the short stint of working with Jennifer, this is what I discovered…

1. She takes responsibility for her vocal health

Jennifer likes her dressing room hot. And I mean HOT! It’s way too warm for my taste but she enjoys keeping herself and her voice warm and hydrated with regular cups of herbal tea.

2. She is RIDICULOUSLY determined

She lost weight and she kept it off (which is the real challenge). She looked beautiful before and after her weight loss but the real quality to marvel at here is the strength of mind it takes to permanently reverse her physical state because she made up her mind to change it.

It may seem like a superficial thing to celebrate but it’s not easy and it takes motivation and consistency to create a life and a body you want!

3. She’s a singer’s singer

It’s not easy being a gospel singer operating in the pop sector of music. As a gospel singer, we are raised in the church and develop a whole heap of vocal chops and power.

In the world of pop, voices that are the most marketable tend to sing straighter and lighter than singers in the gospel community.

It’s quite rare for a gospel sounding voice to have commercial acclaim in the modern pop industry. In this industry, you may hear a lot that you need to adapt your sound to replicate the current trend. But never lose yourself in inauthenticity.

4. Jennifer is a consummate professional

No matter how many time zones she flew through to be in London to promote her single, no matter how tired she was, she got in front of that mic and she delivered (and nailed it).

5. She surrounds herself with people she trusts

As well as the London team helping her put these shows together she also travels with her American manager as well as her sister. It’s essential to have people who know you and love you to support you when you’re making moves in your career.

As a session singer for over 13 years, I found myself feeling a little blasé over the years about the constant travel. Jennifer helped to renew my sense of gratitude in the work I do.

She doesn’t even know she did that for me. Thanks, Jennifer. And yes. We see you.