Jennifer Hudson returned to the spotlight tonight (Feb. 1) with a flawless performance of the national anthem before the Super Bowl in Tampa, Fla. Wearing a flowing white top with black pants and a cropped black jacket, the 27-year-old singer/actress took a deep breath before launching into the anthem.
Hudson used the Super Bowl's massive television audience for her first public appearance since the October slayings in Chicago of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Her estranged brother-in-law has been charged in the killings. She has yet to speak publicly about the incident.
Hudson, who clocked in at 2 minutes, 13 seconds, looked relieved when she was through. (For Billboard.com's Super Bowl microsite, including a game live blog, click here.)
Singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl is considered a prestigious invitation, with all artists trying to match or better Whitney Houston's 1991 version, performed in Tampa during the first Iraq war.
But Hudson's performance was more personal than patriotic. Faith Hill, who sang "America the Beautiful" moments before Hudson's anthem, praised the former American Idol contestant for choosing the Super Bowl as her return.
"She is a strong girl, a girl of faith," Hill said during an NFL news conference earlier this week to introduce the entertainment. "I believe to come and perform the national anthem, which is this country's favorite song, at a time that our country is stepping up and moving forward for future generations. I think it's just the perfect choice."
Hudson's now expected to resume her active work schedule. The singer/actress, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "Dreamgirls," is scheduled to perform at next week's Grammy Awards. And her new video for "If This Isn't Love" is set to debut the week of Feb. 9.
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