In epic credit to her handlers, Jennifer Hudson‘s star has shone brighter with each year since her Oscar winning turn in ‘Dreamgirls’ seven years ago.
Ironically, though, this has been in parallel to the unremarkable performance of not one, but two studio albums on the charts. The singer’s 2008’s self-titled managed to go Gold, yet it’s follow-up, 2011’s ‘I Remember Me’, failed to connect with listeners and to-date has only sold 370,000 in the US. Hoping to right those wrongs, the great Clive Davis has taken the helm of Hudson’s third project.
Having orchestrated much of the late Whitney Houston‘s success, can the industry icon have a similar effect on a career in much need of it? Flip the hood to read his plans for Hudson’s new album in an exclusive interview with Billboard….
Billboard: What are you working on musically now?
Clive Davis: I’m looking for material for Jennifer Hudson. I believe in Jennifer; it’s her third album. She just came from a movie with Ne-Yo. And I’ll be meeting with our great songwriters in that time honored tradition because she is an enormous talent. And we’re looking to find more signature songs for her.
I just signed Aretha Franklin, the greatest voice of all time, say the readers of Rolling Stone. We’re going to do an album where we’ll pick great diva signature songs going back to Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and bringing it up to date with Whitney, Alicia Keys, Adele. Babyface and Dangermouse are going to co-produce it with me. That’s a project I’m very much looking forward to.
Hudson has the odd predicament of having an amazing voice and high media visibility, and yet many would be hard pressed to name five songs of hers.
With this project, Davis and the rest of Team J.Hud are tasked with finding a sound that works for her powerful, yet Old Skool voice. A sound that gives a necessary nod to her Soulful musical ancestors, while also appealing to today’s generation of radio requesters and iTunes buyers.
Hudson has had two album outings to try and find her musical Promise Land, but has delivered duds on both occasions (save for a few tracks). We can only hope, like Janet Jackson, she has her all-important “moment” on her third try. Indeed, a select few will recall that -contrary to popular belief- ‘Control’ was not Jackson’s first album. The iconic set was preceded by two projects that have been all but erased from her discography. Will J.Hud experience a similar trajectory? Time will tell.
In the meanwhile, here are a few musical directions we’d love to see Hudson further explore. They may be her own songs, yet each were rare diamonds in the sea of boring ballads. More of these, please!
Randomness: The new Aretha project sounds like a great concept for her at this point in her career.