jennifer holliday dreamgirls

“I've always been a big fan of Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie White on Broadway. I always followed her music and that's. As the young star of the early '80s smash “Dreamgirls,” Jennifer Holliday received some important tips from the Broadway legends of the era. Jennifer Holliday wowed at the 2021 Tony Awards. The 60-year-old actress brought the crowd to their feet during Sunday's ceremony at the.

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Jennifer Hudson - And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going

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Jennifer Holliday Delivers Epic 'Dreamgirls' Performance at 2021 Tony Awards

Jennifer Holliday wowed at the 2021 Tony Awards. The 60-year-old actress brought the crowd to their feet during Sunday's ceremony at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City, when she performed "And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going" from Dreamgirls.

As she sang the ballad, Holliday received claps and cheers from the crowd, who stood on their feet for the majority of her time on stage. 

Following Holliday's performance, Audra McDonald and Mary-Louise Parker were among the stars to praise her as the 74th annual ceremony continued.

Wow! Jennifer Holliday just stopped the show with her iconic #Dreamgirls number.

— The McCallum Theatre (@McCallumTheatre) September 27, 2021

Holliday's performance was in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Broadway show, in which she originated the role of Effie White in 1981.

The actress earned a Tony Award for her Dreamgirls performance. In 1982, and the same year she won her trophy, Holliday performed the same song to a similarly boisterous response.

For the 2006 film version of the hit musical, Jennifer Hudson took on the role of Effie, and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal. 


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Broadway Queen Jennifer Holliday's Next Act: 'The Color Purple'

Thirty-five years ago, on any given night, two-time Grammy-award-winning recording artist Jennifer Holliday would bring sold-out audiences of enthusiastic Broadway patrons to their feet when she’d close out Act One of the smash hit ‘Dreamgirls’.

Before 'American Idol'-bred Jennifer Hudson took home an Academy Award for playing the big screen version of Effie White, the role was created for the Broadway stage — and standing ovations — by Holliday who belted out the last line of her signature, guttural ballad “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” with a line no one has been able to mimic quite the same way since.

Just this past summer, Holliday performed the 'Apollo Amateur Night'-staple on ABC talk show 'The View' as she joined moderator Whoopi Goldberg’s lip sync of the classic karaoke selection. Her live and bombastic vocals made many think it was still December 20, 1981 when 'Dreamgirls' opened on The Great White Way.

Not Holliday - nor her voice - have been been resting on her laurels since leaving 'Dreamgirls' in 1985. She’s enjoyed a stellar career of recording hits - from torch ballads to dance chart-toppers to an array of gospel (including a 1985 recording of Duke Ellington's 'Come Sunday' that garnered her a Grammy for Best Inspirational Performance).

RELATED: Broadway for Black Lives Matter' Concert Rallies Artists, Actors

Holliday has attracted global bookings that spotlight her special brand of performance (including back-to-back Democratic National Conventions in 1984 and 1988). Primarily known for her stage work, Holliday was also cast regular Lisa Knowles on Fox TV hit show, 'Ally BcBeal', in 2000.

Through all of those years, she’d also do select Broadway fare: Big Mama Morton in 'Chicago,' Teen Angel in 'Grease', and her Broadway debut in 1980s 'Your Arms Too Short to Box With God'.

Jennifer Holliday is back in the Tony-award-winning Broadway revival of 'The Color Purple' at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. In a 14-week limited engagement, the premiere vocalist has assumed the role of the sexy cabaret singer Shug Avery – a role originated in the revival by Grammy winner Hudson and most recently vacated by fellow Tony and Grammy winner Heather Headley.

A few days into her much-buzzed-about engagement, Holliday spoke with NBCBLK Contributor Patrick L. Riley about a range of topics: 'Dreamgirls' former cast-mates Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine; memories of the legendary Earth, Wind, & Fire’s leader Maurice White who produced her first album in 1983; and the way faithful theatergoers in the audience at 'The Color Purple' just won't sit down when she's on the stage singing.

NBCBLK: I’m so excited that you are back on Broadway. Tell me how did this 'The Color Purple' Broadway revival find you?

Jennifer Holliday: Well, believe it or not, when Heather Headley let them know that she was wanting to leave the show, the casting director just wanted to have a shot at me, asking the producers "What about Jennifer Holliday?" The Director [Tony-award-winning John Doyle] didn't know what I had done in terms of being an actress, so I had to audition...

They wanted a BROADWAY LEGEND to AUDITION!!!?? Is that the question?

Yes, but it was okay. John Doyle didn't know what I could do as an actress, but I'd already seen his work and what he'd done with this revival of 'The Color Purple'. So I thought he was worthy of me auditioning. I thought the piece 'The Color Purple' was worthy of me auditioning. And I didn't know if I'd get it or not, but I decided to do it. I came up to New York to audition for John Doyle, the producers, and some of the other creative people. Then, later that night they said 'If Miss Holliday wants the role, we'd love to have her join us.'

I love that. It’s worth noting for our readers that you have a history with “The Color Purple” on stage. In 2014, you appeared in a “mini-tour” of the show, playing Sofia. What was that experience like – especially given you were playing someone different out there than you’re currently playing on Broadway?

I've had almost a three year love affair with 'The Color Purple'. A promoter called me a couple of years ago and told me that he had the rights to do 'The Color Purple' on the road. Would love if you would come out and I can find something for you to do in the show. They were thinking Sofia for me to play [the part that was Oprah Winfrey's Academy-Awards-nominated film debut]. I didn't know I had the comic timing of Sofia but they asked me to try it out in one city, Houston, my hometown. We had sold-out shows. The audience loved it. Everyone thought I was so funny. So, that was the original version of "The Color Purple" that we took out on the road, which is different from the current revival I'm in as Shug Avery on Broadway. Never did I even think I would play another character or be a part of such a raw and honest version of 'The Color Purple', meaning this version is more vulnerable than the first. I'm so proud to be here.

You are SHUG AVERY! You have acted for many years and you know how to BECOME your character. How did you connect to SHUG AVERY…and how are you becoming SHUG AVERY for eight shows a week?

I cheated. I watched the movie. [SHE LAUGHS] So, I patterned my Shug Avery after the actress who played her Margaret Avery (also an Academy Awards nominee). I really loved what she did with Shug Avery in the movie. I watched the movie several times before I started working with the Director. So, I could have at least an idea of what I'd like to do. I didn't know what he would want. But if he asked me, I could tell him my reference or place we could start.

Can we talk about your singing voice on those beautiful songs from 'The Color Purple' – including “More Beautiful Than Words” and “What About Love?” - written and produced by Tony and Grammy winning songwriters Alee Willis, Siedah Garrett, and Brenda Russell, all of whom came to see you Opening Night...and continue to be celebrated for the show's music. Their work speaks for itself but now Jennifer Holliday's voice is on these songs. Wow!

If anyone came to see me, I don't think anything is left out. I don't feel like I would have had to forsake my own creativity or artistry. I think they'll get to see a more well-rounded Jennifer during the few times that I'm singing on stage. So, I think people will hear me sing like they haven't heard me before. I think they'll go "Wow! I didn't know Jennifer had such a delicate part of her voice that sings quietly and can lullaby someone." One thing about this version of the production: It's more of a play with music now. So, what the Director has done is simplified the piece by stripping things down and he's taught me to go to another place.

Can you describe what it is like to collaborate with Cynthia Erivo who won the Tony for her portrayal of Celie?

Cynthia and I have just the one duet "What About Love?" which is actually my favorite song. The lyrics, the way the melody goes, and just thinking about taking flight in love, and trusting. Moving forward with something new, you have to have courage to love, you know?

I do. Then, how much fun is “Push Da Button” to perform. Your uptempo romper?

"Push Da Button" is my very own. So, the Director has allowed me do a gutzy, bluesier Shug Avery like Bessie Smith. It's very down home juke joint! I've been able to show several different sides of my singing showcase with 'The Color Purple', so I'm beyond pleased.

You've survived so much. You have triumphed through so much and been vocal about it - from morbid obesity to clinical depression to multiple sclerosis. And now, you're on Broadway again in an amazing engagement: Eight shows a week?

Eight shows a week!

Are you doing anything differently this go around to ensure you can give that "Jennifer Holliday Experience" every time or the Shug Avery experience, in this case? Any special regimens to keep your energy up?

I'm a Broadway baby! So, therefore I started in the theater. 'Dreamgirls' was 35 years ago. Before that, I did 'Your Arms Too Short To Box With God', so we were taught discipline and I carried those things with me. So, the best way I can give someone the "Jennifer Holliday Experience" is not to be drunk. You can't drink. You can't do drugs. You can't do a whole lot of crazy things. And I always carried that discipline with me in terms of recreating magic and having to make it new every night. Those things are expected of me and those things I don't mind delivering because that's what I was taught. It's in my spirit.

You mention 1980s “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God” as your Broadway debut. Would you school the readers on how significant that staged piece is to the history of theater and African American Theater?

Yes. African Americans used to have a lot of repertory theaters or professional theater companies where you worked productions year-round to prepare them for the road and Broadway. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of them anymore. And a lot of great things came out of it. Back then, "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God" Director Vinette Carroll and people like Alex Bradford wrote plays like "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope" and a lot of things that came out of the African American experience and was brought to the theater. And "Your Arms Too Short to Box with God" did very well. Deloris Hall won a Tony award for the role that I stepped in for and that was my Broadway debut. I think if we could get more pieces written by us, we will have an incredible future in the theater.

Can you give us a memory or two of playing Teen Angel in 1994’s 'Grease'?

SHE LAUGHS. That was hilarious with the big hair and everything like that! I think that was the first time I started guest visiting in Broadway shows years after doing "Dreamgirls" in the early '80s.

In fact, you've done 'Chicago' too!

Yes, my last appearance was as Matron "Mama" Morton in 2001. So, to be able to step into some of these theater pieces for a limited time has been fun.

I absolutely adore your music catalog – starting with your 'Dreamgirls' hits and including your 1983 debut project “Feel My Soul” which included your debut song “I Am Love”...

...Back then, they did writing music different. They wrote it on the spot. And guess how things come full circle? Alee Willis (Grammy and Tony-award-winning co-writer of 'The Color Purple') wrote my hit "I am Love"!

Talk about full circle!

Isn't that amazing?

Absolutely! And Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Maurice White produced that project – still a favorite of mine. So, he was steering all of that. Wow! By the way, we lost Maurice White this year. Any special memories of him you can share?

While getting ready to record "I Am Love", Maurice White and I were at the studio that night with Grammy legend David Foster at the piano. David was stuck for lyrics and calls up Alee who was at her home eating dinner. She came over to the studio to help David out. He had the title "I Am Love" but needed lyrics for the verses. So, I was right there while they were creating. The studio producers and writers don't often do that sort of thing anymore.

Rest in Peace, Maurice White!

Yes, I miss Maurice, of course. He taught me so much. And I'm so grateful that he would do my very first album - seeing that I could do other songs than 'Dreamgirls'. Before we met, he saw me on "Saturday Night Live" and called my record company, asking if they were going to do a project on me. He then told them 'I'd like to write for Jennifer Holliday."

RELATED: Tony Nominations Put #OscarsSoWhite to Shame

...and VOILA!?


Your last project, the critically acclaimed "The Song Is You", was welcomed by your fans last year. I got to see a couple of those wonderful live shows which let us all know that you "ain't been licked".

[LAUGHS] Thank you!

Anymore music that we can expect from you?

I'm hoping so. I'd love to record again. And I would love for people to write for me. I know that the music industry has changed, but I'd love it if Adele and John Legend would write me songs. I have a wish list! So, I'm hoping the future will have more recordings for me.

This "The Color Purple" stint is strictly limited. Any chance you'll extend and/or come back to Broadway?

I don't know. Anything is open. I had been working on a theatrical project with Kristin Chenoweth. I don't know where that is in development right now, but maybe that will be something in terms of the theater. In terms of "The Color Purple", I'm up until January 8th. But if people buy lots of tickets and bring their families and friends, maybe I'd extend. Come on, folks! Spend your holiday with Jennifer Holliday!

That's a tag line! [LAUGHTER]

Yes! "Put a little Holliday in your HOLIDAY!" [LAUGHTER]

Social media shows us that you're receiving lots of famous visitors - including "The Color Purple" composers. I see Broadway legend Tommy Tune was in the house recently. Is it exciting to be back in the mix like that and do you have to be mindful of your voice with after- show chatter?

Either you can sing or you can't. Or you're gonna have a voice or you're not. If the visitors are going to come, it's not like I'm going to a party with them. I say "Hello" and take a picture. So, that won't bother me.

When you and your fellow 'Dreamgirls' Sheryl Lee Ralph (also nominated for a Tony award in the same category the year you won in 1982) and Loretta Devine reconnected in Los Angeles for a 35 year tribute performance to "Dreamgirls", the fans were too excited. Are you, Sheryl, and Loretta as excited?

We were very excited to do this because we don't get along! [LAUGHTER) But the people really love us - so we thought maybe we can hold it together for three hours and not fight...


...ONE NIGHT ONLY! Yes, can we do this and not fight for ONE NIGHT ONLY! So, it was fine. Sheryl Lee and Loretta ARE friends. Sheryl and I have our issues and stuff, but we really do love each other in our own way. To put that 35 year 'Dreamgirls' tribute together, Sheryl Lee will tell you: if we can get ourselves together and reunite, the rest of the world can do it too! That's all I can say! [LAUGHTER] Now keep in mind, I'm not a girlfriend kind of person anyway. So, it's not like a major issue that Sheryl, Loretta, and I don't all "do tea" together. We really do respect and care for each other and the love we have is one of its own in terms of its uniqueness.

Will the ODGs (Original Dreamgirls) come to see you in "The Color Purple", you think?

I don't know. I heard from Sheryl Lee so I'm hoping she'll come. She's a Broadway veteran as well and loves and still does theater. She's just across the river over there in Philadelphia, so hopefully she'll come by.

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 Born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Patrick graduated Atlanta's illustrious Morehouse College cum laude with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. He is currently resides in the New York City area. 


Jennifer Hudson delivered a showstopper in her Dreamgirls audition

If you’ve seen Dreamgirls, you know one of the 2006 musical-turned-film’s biggest highlights is watching Jennifer Hudson bring down the house with her powerful, soulful rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Hudson won an Oscar for her portrayal of Effie White — the lead singer of 1960s girl group The Dream-ettes who finds herself pushed aside romantically and professionally as the trio’s fame grows.

In this exclusive clip of her audition for the film, included on the new special-edition Dreamgirls Blu-ray set, Hudson makes it obvious why she won the role — delivering a gripping performance with only her voice and simple piano accompaniment.

The footage is a brief sample of Hudson’s screen test, and she tells EW that she remembers the experience being much longer. “I felt like that whole audition lasted a good six hours” she says.

Dreamgirls marked Hudson’s feature film debut and the entire process was new to her. “I didn’t even know what a screen test was at the time,” she says. “I was told to know the song inside and out, because for my original audition I didn’t have all the sheet music so I didn’t know the song all the way through.”

“I felt like I sang that song for about six hours straight,” she remembers, “and I remember them saying, ‘her voice was the only voice that sustained all the way through.'” Hudson recalls that in addition to singing “And I Am Telling You,” she was asked to read lines, specifically the entirety of the “It’s All Over” scene leading up to her big number.

When Hudson auditioned for the role of Effie, she was fresh off a seventh-place finish on American Idol. It was her performances on the reality singing competition that first attracted the attention of casting directors. “When I was on American Idol, I would see articles saying ‘Jennifer Hudson for Effie White,'” she remembers. “And I was like ‘Who’s Effie White?’ I didn’t even know who Effie White was. I knew the music, but never the storyline or the character.”

Hudson says that although she was unfamiliar with the plot of Dreamgirls, she knew and loved to perform the music from the show. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jennifer Holliday, who originated the role of Effie White on Broadway. I always followed her music and that’s why I knew of the music from the play, but I didn’t know the story. And I would sing it all the time,” she says.

And while that song is a showstopper, it was a different track that Hudson believes helped get her an audition. “The week that I sang ‘Weekend in New England’ [on American Idol] and Barry Manilow was the guest mentor on the show, he arranged my ‘Weekend in New England’ similar to ‘And I Am Telling You,’ with the same musical breaks and big notes and stuff like that because I reminded him so much of Effie,” she says. “I feel like that was my pre-audition for the role, which had people buzzing about Jennifer Hudson for Effie White.”

From that screen test to making the film, Hudson says, “all of it was just a whole new experience for me.” Going into it, she had no idea her role would carry the brunt of the emotional moments in the film and how it would change her life. “I felt as if I’m good because no one’s looking for me,” she remembers. “You got all these megastars in it from Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Beyoncé Knowles, and Jamie Foxx — no one’s thinking about me. So I was able to do my work without having any pressure.”

Though she didn’t have the trappings of costumes, lights, or costars, Hudson’s audition performance is riveting. For her, the audition and filming the number were very different experiences. “I’m the type of actress or person, I like to live in the moment,” she says. She adds that while she sang live on set, they were taping to playback which required her to match her performance to the tape. “We were shooting the scene at the beginning and [director] Bill Condon was like, ‘you’re crying a little too much, can you pull it back?’ Because on the playback I’m not necessarily giving that level of emotion so I had to find a way to match that emotion.”

“And I Am Telling You” has now become a signature song for Hudson — she sings it often at her concerts. Recently, after making headlines for throwing shoes at contestants she loved as a judge on The Voice, she found herself at the receiving end of flying footwear while performing the Dreamgirls number.

Hudson has described the shoe throwing as a compliment, so we asked her if we should throw shoes at our television when we’re watching her audition video or the new Dreamgirls Blu-ray. “Yeah, but make sure you protect the television because don’t charge me if you break the TV,” she jokes.

The new Dreamgirls special edition, which is packed with more bonus features and an extended director’s cut, is available on Blu-ray and digital HD beginning Tuesday.


The WOW Report

The original Dreamgirl, Jennifer Holliday, belted out And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going and nearly burned the house down Sunday night at the Tony Awards.

Theater legends graced the stage throughout the evening to announce that Broadway was back, in number after number, but the Dreamgirl smashed it.

Holliday won a Tony in ’82 for her portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls and took the stage midway through the ceremony as part of a tribute to the groundbreaking musical’s 40th anniversary.

Holliday’s performance was so mind-blowing that host Audra McDonald said she needed some time to recover before she introduced the next segment.

Winners went on to to thank Holliday in their own speeches long after she left the stage, with Mary-Louise Parker saying she was “still crying” from the performance some time later.

I saw the original production and cast on Broadway and as powerful as the video is, it cannot compare with seeing her live. I was sitting in nosebleed seats, but as the song builds and she hit the finals notes, I swear I felt her voice go through my chest. There’s nothing subtle about it, it’s like being punched in the face with a song. My goosebumps had goosebumps!

Holliday performed the song at the 36th annual ceremony in ’82, in one of the most iconic moments in Tonys’ history. (See below)


— Alexandria Lockett (@MzJaneNova) September 27, 2021

Another Jennifer earned an Oscar for her version…

Filed Under: Misc


Jennifer Holliday

American Tony award-winning actress and singer

For the Australian softball player, see Jennifer Holliday (softball).

Musical artist

Jennifer Yvette Holliday (born October 19, 1960) is an American singer and actress.[1] She started her career on Broadway in musicals such as Dreamgirls (1981–83), Your Arms Too Short to Box with God (1980–81) and later became a successful recording artist.[1] She is best known for her debut single, the Dreamgirls number and rhythm-and-blues/pop hit, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going", for which she won a Grammy in 1983. She also won a 1982 Tony Award for Dreamgirls.


Broadway actress[edit]

Holliday landed her first big role on Broadway in 1979 at age 18, the same day she auditioned for the Broadway production of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God.[2] Her performance in that musical earned her a 1981 Drama Desk nomination. Her next role, which she began to act at age 21, was the role for which she became best known: the role of Effie Melody White in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls.[1] Holliday originated the role of Effie and remained with the show for nearly four years after its December 20, 1981 opening. Her performance in the role was widely acclaimed, particularly in her iconic performance of the musical number that ends Act I, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."[1]

Among the acclaim was Holliday's sweep of awards in 1982, including the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, a Grammy Award for her recorded version of the song,[1] and Drama Desk and Theater World awards for her acting performance. Holliday also performed in the touring company of Sing, Mahalia, Sing in 1985.[1] In 1998, Holliday was featured on the album, My Favorite Broadway Ladies as one of "The Queens of Broadway."

Recording artist[edit]

Holliday's version of the song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" made her a star on Broadway and catapulted her to national stardom.[1] In 1982, a pop version of the song was released as a single. The song became successful, peaking at number one on the BillboardR&Bchart, and number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. She continued to have success as a recording artist through the rest of the decade. Her follow-up song, "I Am Love", became another hit in 1983. Holliday's later R&B hits included "Hard Time For Lovers" (1985), "No Frills Love" (1985), "I'm On Your Side" (1991) and "A Woman's Got the Power" (2000). "A Woman's Got the Power" charted at number 7 in summer of 1999. It re-charted the following year, peaking at number 1. She continued to appear on the charts throughout the 1990s, but never had the same level of success she had in the 1980s. Holliday was a featured vocalist on the number one single "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner in 1985.[1] A number of her songs became hits on the US Dance charts as well. A dance version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" peaked at number 6 on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 2001.

Gospel singer[edit]

On October 30, 1986, Paul Simon hosted a Ken Ehrlich-produced "Gospel Session" originally televised as part of a series of "Cinemax Sessions" featuring Holliday, Luther Vandross, The Oak Ridge Boys, Andrae Crouch, The Edwin Hawkins Singers, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy. The show began with Holliday singing "His Eye Is On The Sparrow". Later, she returned to collaborate with Simon and Vandross on "Still Waters Run Deep," followed by an Aretha Franklin arrangement of "Bridge Over Troubled Water, "with the finale consisting of all the participants joining in "Gone at Last", followed by "Amazing Grace".

A reviewer wrote:

Ms. Holliday's performance and Simon's long-term repertoire of gospel-influenced songbook ("Bridge", "Gone at Last", "Slip Slidin' Away", and "Loves Me Like A Rock" [not included here] is the glue that holds the show together. Visually intriguing is the role reversal of a larger-than-life Jennifer Holliday and a waif-thin Luther Vandross.[3] The music, however, is uniformly exciting, mesmerizing and sets the highest-of-high standard for gospel arrangements. You will seldom see a major gospel show without a musical reference to this concert's arrangements.[4]

Holliday became popular with LGBT events and fundraisers, which she acknowledged on her gospel album On & On. Because of this, the Atlantic Entertainment Group's Director of Live Talent, Scott Sherman, produced and promoted many Jennifer Holliday events for several years, acting as both Holliday's de facto agent and as her road manager. Under Sherman's aegis, Holliday went on a series of special tours and promotions, one-night-only performances, LGBT pride appearances, and special fundraising events.[citation needed]

Health concerns and career renewal[edit]

In the 1990s, Holliday lost a substantial amount of weight and talked about her health struggles with depression during promotional interviews.[2] Initially, the weight loss was attained strictly by diet. Eventually, in an effort to avoid regaining the weight, Holliday had gastric bypass surgery. After the initial weight loss, she released an LP and video titled I’m On Your Side. The video, unlike most videos, was recorded live. In 1995, Holliday released the gospel album On & On. In a March 2008 interview, she revealed that she was in the studio working on a new album, to be released later that year.[5]

In April 2011, Holliday released a Christian CD titled Goodness and Mercy[6] on her own Euphonic Records label. She produced it in conjunction and cooperation with the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock,[6] later elected United States Senator from Georgia.

At the St. Louis Muny, Holliday reprised her role of Effie White in their production of Dreamgirls, running from July 16 to July 22, 2012. She has stated that she does not plan to return to the role again.[7]

Television appearances[edit]

Apart from her career in the music industry and on the stage, Holliday has also made appearances on primetime television. In addition to appearances on Touched by an Angel and Hang Time, she had a half dozen appearances in a recurring guest star role on Ally McBeal, where she acted out the role of choir director Lisa Knowles, often singing popular ballads.

In 2001, Holliday opened Unforgiven by singing "America The Beautiful", which was the first WWEpay-per-view to be held after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

On June 26, 2007, Holliday made a surprise appearance at the BET Awards, singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in a duet with Jennifer Hudson, who had played Effie White in the 2006 film adaptation of Dreamgirls, and won an Oscar for her performance. Holliday had not been offered a cameo role in the film and, feeling snubbed, had repeatedly expressed displeasure with the movie in the media. (Another original Dreamgirls cast member, Loretta Devine, did have a cameo in the film.)[8] More recently, it became possible to see Holliday in a YouTube video, singing a duet with Hudson. The two actresses-singers performed their live duet at a concert Hudson gave on April 16, 2009. The YouTube video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times as of July 2021.[citation needed]

On October 17, 2011 Holliday appeared on The Wendy Williams Show where, following a sit-down interview, Holliday performed "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and received a standing ovation from the studio audience.

On May 23, 2012 Holliday performed "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" alongside American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez during the American IdolSeason 11 finale.

On October 2, 2018 Holliday surprised the seven year old viral singing sensation, Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja on GMA Day, and they performed a duet of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going".[9]

Jennifer Holliday was among hundreds of artists whose material was destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[10]

On July 30, 2020, Jennifer Holliday sang “Only What You Do for Christ Will Last” as well as "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at the funeral of civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Personal life[edit]

Holliday has been married twice. In March 1991, just two months after she met keyboardist Billy Meadows in a nightclub where she was singing, they married. "He had a great sense of humor and he made me laugh all the time," Holliday says of her first husband. "I had been feeling bad for so long, I wanted to laugh." But in December 1991, just nine months later, they divorced; the marriage, according to Holliday, "ran out of steam." She explained of Meadows: "We just didn't know each other well enough."[11]

Her second marriage, which began on March 21, 1993 and ended in 1994, was to Rev. Andre Woods, a minister in Detroit. Jet magazine covered the marriage in their April 19, 1993 issue.[12] Though Woods was a charismatic Detroit preacher, she subsequently said that even so, he was a player who also ran through her money. Still, Holliday was devastated when, in 1994, that marriage, too, ended, just four months after her mother died of cancer. "It was like experiencing two deaths at the same time," she remembered. "The grief was overwhelming."[11]

Holliday attended Texas Southern University.[13] She later received a Doctor of Musichonoris causa from Berklee College of Music, Boston in 2000. In 2001 she was presenter for the tap dance show 21 Below at the Town Hall in New York, and also appeared in the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' Nothing Like a Dame show at the St. James Theatre in 2002.[14]

As of late February 2011, Holliday was residing in Atlanta.[15]


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]


Theatre credits[edit]

Additional credits

  • Sing, Mahalia, Sing (1985)
  • The Gospel Truth (1986)
  • Harlem Suite (1988)
  • Angela Lansbury: A Celebration (1996) (benefit concert)
  • Downhearted Blues: The Life and Music of Bessie Smith (2001)
  • Black Nativity (2002)

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Holliday has received two awards out of four nominations.[18]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdefghColin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 116. ISBN .
  2. ^ ab"A dream shape for the 'Dreamgirl.' – singer Jennifer Holliday". Ebony. 1991. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006.
  3. ^She would soon be much thinner, while he would again be heavy and remain so for most of the rest of his last years.
  4. ^In 2006, the concert became available on DVD under the title Night of Gospel Glory, "starring Paul Simon & Friends."
  5. ^Echeverria Jr., Steve (March 28, 2008). (The Herald Tribune) "Nightlife: The original Dreamgirl." Retrieved on April 23, 2008.
  6. ^ ab"CAPITAL ENTERTAINMENT :: Press Release – Jennifer Holliday". April 19, 2011. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  7. ^Jennifer Holliday to Star as Effie White in Dreamgirls for the ‘Last’ Time at St. Louis' Muny, Retrieved January 14, 2017
  8. ^Nader, Juli (November 21, 2006). "Exclusive: Jennifer Holliday Says She Created Role in Dreamgirls and Doesn’t Want to Be Forgotten"., Retrieved on November 27, 2006.
  9. ^"Video: GMA Day's epic diva surprise for pint-sized singing superstar Malea Emma". ABC News. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  10. ^Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  11. ^ ab"Out Of The Dark - Jennifer Holliday's battle with depression - includes related article on black women and depression Essence - Find Articles". August 27, 2006. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006.
  12. ^"Jennifer Holliday Weds Again, Vows 'This Is The One'". Jet. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company. 83 (25): 34–36. April 19, 1993. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  13. ^"Jet – Google Books". Johnson Publishing Company. December 15, 1997. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  14. ^"Nothing Like A Dame | Broadway Cares".
  15. ^"Jennifer Holliday to Record Track on Lysistrata Jones Album". April 5, 2012. Retrieved December 24, 2012.
  16. ^ abcdefghJennifer Holliday Chart History. Billboard. Retrieved on November 6, 2019
  17. ^"UK Charts > Jennifer Holliday". Official Charts Company.
  18. ^"Jennifer Holliday".

External links[edit]


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