In The 'Spotlight'

At 26, Jennifer Hudson's career path may be impossible to duplicate.

At 26, Jennifer Hudson's career path may be impossible to duplicate: She went from being a choir singer at her church in her hometown of Chicago to a Disney Cruise Line chanteuse to an "American Idol" contestant to an Academy Award winner for best supporting actress for her role in "Dreamgirls." Thanks to the ever-expanding entertainment landscape, what this means is that Hudson has built a significant career on a multiple-octave voice -- without releasing an album.

All that changes this week, when her self-titled debut drops on Arista/RMG. Even under the guidance of Sony BMG U.S. chief creative officer Clive Davis and RCA Music Group senior VP of A&R Larry Jackson, "Jennifer Hudson" faced a difficult task: With a voice that can do anything and an artist who has generated a fan base from numerous outlets, how do you narrow down what the album will contain so that it retains her broad appeal?

The answer: You don't. "Jennifer Hudson" defies classifying and offers up everything from pop to R&B to gospel. The set features a gospel tribute to her days in the church choir with a rendition of "Jesus Promised Me a Home Over There" and a track that Diane Warren penned for the singer's lung-busting balladeer side, "You Pull Me Through." The album also includes the classic "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from "Dreamgirls" and "All Dressed in Love" from the recent "Sex and the City" soundtrack.

"It is risky, because people expect you to just do one thing," Hudson says. "I'm going to take the chance and show what else is a part of me."