Aretha Franklin. Diana Ross. Etta James. These are household names of soul, and since Jennifer Hudson’s debut on American Idol, she has established herself on that list of legends.
This month, Hudson takes her powerful voice to Wolf Trap’s stage, elevating the concert by performing with the National Symphony Orchestra. Below, we spoke with her about the tour, her role in the new Cats movie and more.
How does performing with a symphony elevate the show?
It adds so much. It’s vibrant; it gives you the dynamic of having every instrument you can imagine. Being able to perform with an orchestra has been a dream of mine. I’m happy to see it connect with the audience.
For the Wolf Trap show, what are you most looking forward to?
I love being outdoors. I know in the hot Septembers we all want to be indoors, but I love being outside. It’s all my favorite elements in one: the sun, which I love, the beautiful, fresh air and then adding music to that … I think it will be something I remember.
What do you love about singing soul and R&B music?
Being a part of keeping it alive. To see my name up there with artists who represent soul music is incredible. The music—the spirit of it—has carried us as a people.
You’re in the cast of the new film, Cats (premiering Dec. 20). Tell us about that.
It was very different. It’s animated, but it’s not animated. We were thinking like, ‘OK, how does a human walk like a cat?’, but it was a great experience. My favorite part was singing live. In Dreamgirls, we prerecorded everything, but in Cats we’re singing live. // Sept. 5; 8 p.m.; Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; $45