The Washington Post

Jennifer Hudson, one of the good ones, honored at ‘Grammys on the Hill’

There’s the Oscar she won for acting, the Grammy she won for singing — and now the latest honor Jennifer Hudson has won, just for being good.

Jennifer Hudson performing at the Grammy’s on the Hill Awards in Washington on Wednesday. (Nick Wass/Invision/AP)

The Recording Academy, to kick off its annual lobbying push, brought the R&B belter to town to honor her charitable contributions in front of an audience of industry suits and industry-friendly lawmakers.

“It’s sooo different,” Hudson gushed to reporters before the “Grammys on the Hill” dinner at the Hamilton, looking stage-ready — poofy skirt, skyscraper heels, bangs of a near-Zoe Deschanel heft, beefed-up lashes to match. “It’s extra special, because it’s not just for the arts,” she said. “It’s just me being me, being the person that I am and trying to make a difference in the world.”

JenniferHudson performs at the Grammy's on the Hill Awards at The Hamilton on Wednesday, April 17, 2013 in Washington. (Photo by Nick Wass/Invision/AP) (Nick Wass/Invision/AP)

No, it’s not a Nobel Prize, but this is what advocacy groups do: Draw guests to a dinner with celebrities, and draw celebrities to the event with a good-citizen type award. The trick is finding a good celebrity: Someone who is punctual, professional, polite, enthusiastic, worthy. Trust us, not all of them are. Hudson has a reputation as one of the good ones. Reading her commendation, superproducer Clive Davis cited, among so many other things, “all the fundraising dinners” where she gamely turns out to sing.

Which (remember?) is what she’s famous for, even if it’s hard to brand her as mere “recording artist.” Nine years after her big voice launched her to “American Idol” fame, she has so much other stuff going on — the acting, the “Weight Watchers” ads, the compelling life story — a free-form fame that her album sales have somehow not kept up with.

Ever polite, Hudson didn’t blink at the question. “God has chosen to use me in every way, shape and form,” she laughed, and “singing has been underlying it all. If I’m in a film, it’s like, ‘Jennifer, sing!’ and I’m like, ‘Is that really in a script, guys?’ If I’m in a commercial, it’s ‘Jennifer, sing!’ On an album, it’s ‘Jennifer, sing!’ Music is the basis of it all, and I’m blessed to be able to use it in whatever I do.”

Later, she took the stage to accept the “Recording Artist Coalition Award,” and the woman who already has an Oscar and a Grammy seemed just as grateful for this one.

“I hope to do you all proud in my music career and as a human being,” she said. “You ever need me, I will be there with bells on.”

And then — well, no one actually said it, but it was that time: Jennifer, sing!

First a goosebumpy version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Then a melancholy take on “One Night Only” — from “Dreamgirls,” of course. “I had to leave you with a bit of Effie,” she said.

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Amy Argetsinger · April 18, 2013

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