Collaborating together for the first time, Grammy Award winners Jennifer Hudson and Carole King have co-penned “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” — the sole original song featured in the forthcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect. The song, which also appears on the film’s original motion picture soundtrack, is being released Friday (June 18).
It’s fitting that King, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, co-penned a new song for the Franklin biopic. Franklin’s 1967 career-defining cover of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” — King’s co-write with Gerry Goffin — became one of the Queen of Soul’s signature classics.
Rounding out the creative team behind “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” are fellow co-writer Jamie Hartman (Lewis Capaldi, Christina Aguilera) and Grammy Award-winning Black Eyed Peas co-founder and producer will.i.am, who produced the track. When MGM’s Respect opens nationwide in theaters on August 13, the Epic Records soundtrack will become available on the same day.
Hudson, who was handpicked by Franklin to portray her, noted in a press statement, “Music is such a living and breathing character in this film, as it was in Ms. Franklin’s life. The process of creating this song was like constructing the greatest tribute I could possibly offer to her spirit. It was the final exhale of this extraordinary project and one that I let out with complete fulfillment. Being able to do so with Carole and Jamie was an incredible privilege.
“Carole is one of the greatest songwriters of all time,” Hudson continued, “and whether we were trading stories, playing piano together over video conference or working through lyrics, it was always a masterclass — both in life and music. Jamie and I have collaborated together in the past and it’s always so wonderful to create with him — he is continuously thinking outside of the box in a way that deepens the musical experience in indescribable ways. Our goal was to show that music was always the anchor for Ms. Franklin, in all that she did, and I hope this song illustrates the strength of her voice – both literally and figuratively – which always brought her home.”
Said King of the collaboration, “Writing a song with Jamie Hartman and Jennifer Hudson felt both familiar and fresh at the same time. The process of songwriting continues to amaze me. One minute there’s nothing, and then a song grows out of the seed of an idea. The seed was dormant when Jennifer, Jamie, and I first met virtually. Jennifer and I had previously performed together, and I was excited about writing with her for no less than a film called Respect in which Jennifer plays Aretha Franklin! I’m so pleased to have not just one but two songs as part of the Respect soundtrack: the 21st century song ‘Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)’ and my 20th century co-write with Gerry Goffin, ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.’”
“What Jennifer, Carole, and Jamie have created together is nothing short of historic,” said Epic Records chairwoman/CEO Sylvia Rhone. “It celebrates the legacy of Aretha Franklin by channeling her spirit and style in an original, no less. As soon as I heard it, I was speechless. It has all the elements of a future American songbook staple.”
Respect is directed by Tony Award-nominated Liesl Tommy, with Academy Award winner Hudson (Dreamgirls) also serving as an executive producer of the film. In a dual career split between singing and acting, Hudson has been featured in additional films such as Sex and the City, Chi-Raq, Sing and Cats plus Broadway’s Color Purple. Her music credits include 2008’s platinum-certified debut album Jennifer Hudson, 2011’s gold-certified I Remember Me and 2014’s Grammy-nominated JHUD. Set to release new music soon, Hudson also sang “I’ll Fight” for the soundtrack to the critically acclaimed documentary RBG. The Diane Warren-penned anthem was nominated for best original song at the 2019 Academy Awards.