Since her star-making turn as Effie in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, which took her from American Idol also-ran to Academy Award winner, Jennifer Hudson has left no doubt that she can crush a big ballad. Now, on her third album, JHUD (Sept. 23, RCA), the singer-actress flips the script, hitting the dancefloor with beats by Pharrell Williams and assists from R. Kelly, Iggy Azalea and T.I. As she gets her new groove on, the Chicago native, 33, dishes on her dream role, going gospel and being sick of singing that song.
You collaborated with Pharrell Williams on your new album. What was that like?
We both love old-school music. He’ll come in with a track, and then I’m like, “I already know where I’m going with this. I feel you.”
After JHUD, what other kinds of music projects do you see in your future?
I want my next album to be a live album, like an old Aretha Franklin performance where she sat at the piano and played. I love moments like that. Then eventually I want to do an opera album because I sing opera as well. But my ultimate goal is to do a gospel album.
Are you still in the running to play Aretha Franklin in a movie?
Well, apparently, they’re still figuring that out, but that is my dream role. I would love it. I feel the same way I felt about Dreamgirls: I’m ready, honey!
Your signature song is “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Are you sick of singing it?
You hit the nail on the head! I would never have guessed that I would still be walking around singing this one song. I will go through a whole 50-minute set and ain’t nobody paying me no attention, but as soon as I sing “And I Am Telling You,” it’s like, “Really? That’s all y’all want?” I will be singing it for the rest of my days. But I’m grateful for it.