Politics 2020: Oscar Winner Jennifer (“Dreamgirls”) Hudson Sings ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ at Night 3 of Democratic National Convention

Oscar Winner Jennifer Hudson Sings ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ at Third Night of Democratic National Convention

sam cooke chicago Jennifer Hudson sings
Democratic National Convention

At the end of the third evening of the 2020 DNC Wednesday night, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson delivered the powerful song under the tiffany dome at the Harold Washington Cultural Center in her hometown of Chicago.

There were some big Aretha Franklin tie-ins in the performance by Hudson, who’s about to embody Franklin on film: Not only was she was singing “the Aretha version” of the song, she was being accompanied by two pianists: Fred Nelson, Franklin’s conductor, and Richard Gibbs, the soul queen’s piano player for many years. Reginald Foster rounded out her backing trio on soprano sax.

Hudson previously got media attention for delivering a knockout version of it at the 2019 AFI Awards, singing it for honoree Denzel Washington. The song played a key role in one of Washington’s films, “Malcolm X.”

The Cultural Center in Chicago is the first place Hudson ever performed for Barack Obama. At the 2008 Democratic convention, she sang “The Star Spangled Banner” the year Obama accepted his nomination.

Obama himself cited the lyrics of “A Change is Gonna Come” in his victory speech after winning the election. At his inauguration months later, Bettye LaVette and Jon Bon Jovi sang the Cooke song as a duet.

Hudson’s first time singing for Joe Biden was at a virtual fundraiser for him in June, along with Barbra Streisand, John Legend and Andra Day.