Grammy Award-winning singer and Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Hudson and Universal Music Publishing Group chairman/CEO Jody Gerson were two of the special honorees at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies: A Hollywood Luncheon. The sixth annual luncheon, which raised $1.4 million to help end preterm births, was held Friday (Dec. 9) at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
Prior to accepting the Inspiring Woman of the Year award from her son, Julian Swirsky, Gerson spoke to Billboard about the March of Dimes honor and also being a 2016 Billboard Women in Music honoree. The latter event was held the same day in New York City.
“Women have come so far in our business,” said Gerson, “and we have far to go. But this is what I love: we have formed a sisterhood. I’m sad I can’t be in New York to support my sisters. But I’m here supporting moms with a great organization.”
Hudson received the 2016 March of Dimes Grace Kelly Award from fellow Grammy-winning singer Kelly Rowland. Prior to the ceremony, Hudson noted, “Once you have a child, every child feels like your child. Thankfully, I had a healthy child. But not everyone gets that. We’re all here because we want everyone to have healthy babies.”
Echoing Hudson’s sentiments, Rowland added, “Jennifer is not just a powerhouse vocalist. We all know that. She also knows how to use her voice to talk about important things like the health of mothers and babies. It’s about building an awareness so people know what’s going on.”
Nick Cannon served as emcee at the afternoon ceremony, which also honored Dr. Mary Kerr who was presented with the Prematurity Champion Award. Additional guests at the March of Dimes Celebration of Babies included Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, Capitol Music Group chairman/CEO Steve Barnett, Universal Music Group executive VP Michelle Anthony, film/TV producer Brian Grazer, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, actress Elizabeth Banks, Rev. Jesse Jackson and Universal Pictures president Jimmy Horowitz who, with his wife Joi and producer Wyck Godfrey, co-chaired the event.