RESPECT (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Jennifer Hudson

RESPECT (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Jennifer Hudson felt a spiritual connection to Aretha Franklin and Respect, the new biopic in which she plays the Queen of Soul, long before filming began. “It’s like it was already ordained, already happening,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in a conversation about her adoration of Franklin and her journey with Respect. “Even thinking back to when I auditioned for American Idol: ‘What are you gonna sing?’ ‘“Share Your Love With Me” by Aretha Franklin!’ Who would’ve ever thought?! I didn’t know at the time that I would play Aretha Franklin.”
Before Franklin died in 2018, Hudson got to know the icon, who chose Hudson to portray her onscreen and was never far from her mind while she was making the film. “I was going through one of my phones the other day, and I ran across her messages,” she recalled. “It was certain songs: ‘Jennifer, I want you to sing this, I want you to sing this, I want you to sing this.’ So now, my only goal is to do whatever she asked me to do. It was my dream to do it, too, let me be clear: It ain’t just her, I wanted to play Aretha, that’s my ideal of a role! But even going back, it’s like, no: I take it seriously, I respect it, and I just want to meet whatever her request was, whatever her wishes were.”
There were times while filming where Hudson felt completely immersed in Franklin’s story. “This in particular was the most personal project ever—the rawness, the reality of the story, I can’t help but resonate with it and come from a vulnerable place,” she says. “At times it felt as if our worlds came together, especially in delivery.” Her body-and-soul embrace of Franklin extended beyond the movie set, too. “I just had to give myself to the whole project,” she continued. “I remember coming out of filming, telling people in my life when I got back to it, ‘Y’all, I’ve been stuck in the ’60s the past few months, give me a minute!’ Even on my off time, I still have pieces in my closet that are my own, but that are reminiscent of something she would’ve worn. Or I would be smiling in photos, like, ‘That was Aretha, Jennifer, that wasn’t how you smile.’ A lot of those things you adopt, and they stay within you.”
Respect, and the life and music of Aretha Franklin, has left a transformational impact on Hudson—one that has only magnified her reverence for her talent and deepened her appreciation for her strength, onstage and off. “My takeaway is owning your treasure, your voice, and trusting it,” she says. “That’s where the power lies. As soon as she did that, that’s when we got our Queen of Soul.”

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